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Issue 1084

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Review

Blue Lab Beats: Blue Skies EP (Believe Recordings)

Blue Lab Beats EP Cover pic

10

6.3

Rate this EP

UK release date 16.09.2016

If music is the audio equivalent of colours, then this lot are painting predominantly with a blue palette. Keeping with the blue theme; this stuff would not be out of place on the most famous jazz label on the planet, Blue Note.

To sum up this four track introduction to these two young London musicians, composers and producers, only two words required: Bloody cool. Yeah, that does it.

In fact, NK-OK & Mr DM describe themselves as “some cool dudes that like making music.” They have made music together for some time, supplying beats to guest artists while surging ahead with their own thing. NKOK is the producer brains while Mr DM’s multi-instrumental skills avoid the need for samples. Their influences stretch from Wiley, Wretch 32 and Kano to jazz legend Oscar Peterson.

The pair is at the heart of The Age Of L.U.N.A., the exciting outfit which is a big part of the highly collaborative young instrumental scene emerging in London with its roots in hip hop, jazz, and neo-soul. “A group of young Londoners that intend to force musicality and consciousness back into mainstream rap music.”

The pair is also the innovation behind acts such as Ruby Francis and Louis VI, and remixes for Jodie Abacus, Dua Lipa, Rag’n’Bone Man and others.

Part of an underground scene of young musicians who meet for all night jam sessions in warehouses around London. Beats are born in the Blue Lab and graced by musicians, rappers singers from all over London, and worldwide via the internet.

As part of The Age of L.U.N.A. the pair recently appeared on a Channel Four/Netflix music documentary and performed at Glastonbury on BBC TV this summer.

New project “Blue Skies,” has no boundaries and like all their music; it all starts with the drum track. A hip hop core to it all, the drum programming comes from the grime scene.

New age jazz; loose, experimental and no rules. The source of their sound is American, but the energy and attitude London. But it owes as much to J Dilla as it does jazz vibes legend Milt Jackson. NK OK sums it up when he says: “Blue Skies is about freedom, and that feeling you get in the morning when anything is possible."

“Movement,” opens proceedings with a dreamy, chilled out, ethereal vibe; an instrumental which evolves into screaming distorted guitar riffs. Short and sweet at just over two minutes long.

“Sweet Thing,” features Melo B. Jones. A mid tempo, broken soul, R&B and jazz blend. Sensual vocal from a distinctive Ms Jones; a real cool track which lays down some laid back jazz guitar licks. It all relies on a solid programmed drum track to drive it along. The second single lifted from this EP.

“Skippy,” featuring Joe Armon-Jones & Sheldon Agwu, is a groove-laden goodie soaked with blissful electric piano skills in a Lonnie Liston Smith style. Retro programmed percussion track, some lovely multi-tracked jazz guitar virtuosity. Lovely, lovely feel to this cut.

The title track was the first single. Nods to the past, but still very relevant to now. In the pocket funk drum track, sultry Blue Note piano brush strokes and soaring trumpet vibes. I just love this. World class and uber infectious. The sax solo adds value. Maybe a 70s, Rodney Franklin flavour to the killer piano ….The likes of McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett and the governor, Miles Davis all spring to mind too.

In fact, were Miles still with us, I can definitely imagine him inviting these guys in to collaborate, to cook up a fresh brew of something exciting and innovative.

The only downside of this four track release is...... we only get 14 minutes and three seconds of the good stuff here. Quality not quantity. More please………I predict very big things and big name hook ups to come when word gets out………….
Words SIMON REDLEY

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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