Kamasi Washington Returns With “Harmony of Difference”

Kamasi Washington delivers another fantastic set of music two years after his solo debut. “The Epic,” Washington’s first album, was exactly that: epic. Containing 17 songs and dialing in at a whopping 3 hours, “The Epic” is more of a musical marathon than an album. Now, Kamasi returns with a much shorter EP, “Harmony of Difference.” Clocking in at only 32 minutes, this is a shallower pool of Washington’s work, and it’s easy to dip your toes into.

The record has six definitive songs, but when listening to it, it feels more like four. Tracks one and two, “Desire” and “Humility,” as well as tracks three and four, “Knowledge” and “Perspective” respectively, all flow into each other almost seamlessly. This helps bring a wholeness to these songs, as they are only 3-4 minutes individually. When listening to these songs back to back, the EP begins to sound reminiscent of “The Epic,” as most tracks off that record averaged anywhere from 7-12 minutes.

“Harmony of Difference” is masterfully crafted, and shows Washington’s ability to produce harmonious and engaging jazz that sounds new and interesting. You can hear Kamasi’s distinctive saxophone soar over some parts, while at others he allows the other instruments to take center stage. All of the sounds and instruments are expertly layered and are each emphasized, depending on where the track is in its musical timeline. As the EP progresses, you can hear the flow of relaxation slowly build, followed by an explosive climax that involves Washington wailing on the sax.

“Integrity” is the one short song that seems to stand by itself. It’s notable mainly because of its brief cello solo.

After that, “Harmony of Difference” comes to a close with “Truth,” the only single to come before the release of the full record. In proper Kamasi Washington style, “Truth” is a hearty 13 minutes and showcases all of the instruments used, as well as the choir of voices that compliments them. This is the only track to feature any vocals, and it certainly does them justice. With no actual lyrics, the voices create a heavenly choir that lifts the listener into an angelic trance through the song.

Overall, this is a fantastic record, and can be appreciated by jazz fanatics and the casual listener alike. “Harmony of Difference” maintains Kamasi’s signature style, – just by hearing the songs one can identify its creator with relative ease. This album could be a better introduction into Washington’s work than the movie length “The Epic,”as “Harmony of Difference’s” length is that of a television episode. Overall, this record is a pleasure to listen to and I would recommend anyone has any interest in jazz to check it out.

Featured Image: “harmony of Difference” cover art, all credits to Kamasi Washington and his label.

Explore Mamu in IGLOOGHOST’s “Neō Wax Bloom”

IGLOOGHOST smashes all expectations of what sounds can be mixed together in his debut album “Neō Wax Bloom.” An up and coming beat maker who was discovered by Flying Lotus and was later signed to his Brainfeeder laber, IGLOOGHOST has broken the boundaries on what we consider electronic music. This concept album takes a journey into the fantasy world of Mamu, one which is filled with witches and gods and magic. This album is a fast paced adventure that can leave you equal parts in shock and awe. Every track is a combination of symphonic melodies and off the wall drum and bass. Underneath all of this are samples full of grime, rock, and instruments unfamiliar to a casual listeners ears.

“Pale Eyes” is the first track, which introduces you to a number of sounds that reoccur at different frequencies throughout the rest of the album. If one was to only listen to this song, however, they would be terribly mislead about what is to come.

“Super Ink Burst” begins with a strong saxophone to throw listeners through their first loop in the circus that is “Neō Wax Bloom.” Even with the songs that fly by, they all also sound distinctly unique and creative in their own way. No bar in any track is exactly the same as any other, creating a nonstop barrage of melodies and sounds that are mashed up in every single way imaginable.

As you find your way bouncing between the organized chaos, a brief hiatus is delivered with probably the calmest track, “Purity Shards.”

Just as you catch your breath, the album shoots off again with the chime filled “Zen Champ,” as IGLOOGHOST shows you there are still vast landscapes of Mamu you have yet to explore.

Up next, are the only two tracks on the LP with features. The first one features Cuushe, who’s soft vocals add a soothing aura into an otherwise hectic album. Her voice is met with bass to compliment and a daunting piano melody, exemplifying the variation that IGLOOGHOST is capable of.

As “Neō Wax Bloom” comes to a close, IGLOOGHOST leaves us with one last wild treat – if listeners were still unsatisfied with the pace of the album. “God Grid,” a zany 220 bpm track that will give you whiplash just by trying to follow it as it races around the room at speeds faster than sound, finishes us off.

I would recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of electronic music, especially those who enjoy the fusion of different genres. IGLOOGHOST leaves a strong impression with his first LP and has definitely left me wanting more. At the most basic level, I believe fans of any type of music can appreciate the level of complexity and creativity that IGLOOGHOST has injected into each and every track on “Neō Wax Bloom.”

Nosaj Thing’s ‘Parallels’ Easy to Get Lost In

Float on through the eerie synthetic experience that is Nosaj Thing’s fourth album, “Parallels,” released Sept. 8 on Timetable Records. “Parallels” creates a dark, almost unsettling atmosphere that surrounds the listener with its long, drawn out sounds and repetitive loops.

The veteran beat maker provides us with a 10-track record, which is slightly shorter than previous releases from Nosaj Thing. Compared to his other albums, “Parallels” has proportionally more tracks with vocals – though none match the caliber of the Chance the Rapper and Toro y Moi songs that have been featured on past releases.

“Nowhere” is the opening track of “Parallels,” and like the name suggests once the beat begins the direction of the track doesn’t wander far from its origin. With a looping piano sequence that lasts the whole song, one can immediately sense the vibe of this album. Different tones and sounds drone on in the background as the piano never ceases, albeit changing tune a few times.

Immediately after this never changing track, we are met with the most creative song, “All Points Back To U (feat. Steve Spacek).” Spacek lays vocals over an unusually fast beat, compared to the rest of “Parallels,” which is why the track shines as one of the stand outs. This song, as well as “How We Do (feat. Kazu Makino),” showcases how Thing is able to pair his alternative beats with unique voices to create interesting, inspired tracks. These unique vocals add the much needed flair most of the album seems to lack.

The tracks generally start out with a simple beat, and as they progress small additions, in terms of samples and sounds, are layered over them. Unfortunately, the results are lackluster and can leave the listener disappointed when a song comes to a close, wishing that another element would have joined in. In some of the songs a beat starts, loops, and seemingly doesn’t change for the song’s entirety.

“Parallels” showcases Nosaj Thing’s potential for making creative beats with sounds and ideas people may have never heard before – just like his previous albums. Yet, with the exception of a few stellar tracks, the majority of this album does not seem to find the hook that gets his most popular beats picked up by other artists (for their own projects).

Overall, “Parallels” is a nice refresher for loyal fans of Nosaj Thing, but might have trouble attracting new listeners.

Featured Image: Nosaj Thing, “Parallels” cover art.