Imbued by the acrylic black and white album cover, the magic starts off right away with the first track entitled Way. The experience compels an odd feeling of warmth and vibrancy. It is one of those experiences that are difficult to find nowadays.
Very rarely does an instrumental album of this majesty come into full bliss with open arms, only to be unnoticed within the sea of both nymphs and jinns. It is typical for a piece of art with exceptional quality to receive adequate attention and respect. It is a part of societal nature.
This becomes the exception when a market becomes saturated enough where attention comes from affixed features of the artists. How the musician acts on camera or who has he or she worked with. The anonymity of DJ Harrison suggests otherwise.
Image from daily.bandcamp.com
All that the listener could assume about DJ Harrison is his displayed biography and his tastes in music, based on the instruments and samples he uses. The only personal aspects fans may know about him is that he is a native of Richmond. Virginia, and that he has a practice in the field of modern Jazz.
Sir Froderick seems to follow a similar path, but a path more based on the Alternative Jazz Hop movement. His musical tastes are influenced by the likes of the 1970s and 1980s synth music swaddled with a Hip-Hop vernacular. It reminds me a lot of the style that Knxwledge or Mndsgn helped cultivate after 2010.
From there, there wouldn’t be any initial expectations on what these two would be able to surmise. Hip-Hop and Jazz know no bounds. It has limitless potential with infinite creativity, and musicians belonging to the genres are a part of the ongoing evolution of the two genres. Since 2010, DJ Harrison has proved that with his 2017 album Songs About H.E.R. with fellow musician Sir Froderick.
Image from amazon.com
Songs About H.E.R. holds thirteen tracks, all holding slight differences and niches from one another. Each of the tracks, when listened in one session, comes together to pull the listener into its nubiferous universe. These beats are magnified with quiet drums, synthesizers, hi-hats, snares, and adorned with vibrant piano chords and bass strings.
A lot of these tracks range from one-in-a-half to three minutes, but the potency of these beats make them seem to last longer.
Way is the mentioned beat that starts off the album. It is essentially a Jazz composition masqueraded by the MPC garment. The smooth bass strings concocted with piano chords and shaking cymbals create a period Soul beat.
This incantation continues in the next track Bassed Eyes. The track rides effortlessly with both its usage of the chords and percussion. With the next track, Bokchoy, the chords take on a space-themed, extraterrestrial approach. It is the main focus of the beat, where it allows some guitar strings to take the lead in the second half.
Image from sirfroderick.bandcamp.com
The album takes another direction in the track Dumdums. This time the focus magnetizes more on the samples and MPC drums taking place. It takes a break away from the Jazz compositions and onto a Hip-Hop route, all without derailing from the nocturnal feeling both genres oddly give off in this album.
A personal favorite from this album is entitled What Is Life. What makes both Jazz and Hip-Hop beautiful is presented in this short sampled-track, extracting all the extremities of both genres away in order to allow the core essences to craft the beat.
The hard Hip-Hop drums undulate along the fluttering piano loop. The instrumental is then supported by the sampled dialogue loops. The track quirks and trajects in a slightly different path with these tools, all without making it discordant or stale.
An album like this was given little to no recognition. The absence of recognition usually renders an album as a “niche” or “acquired taste” for many listeners. Although, Something about Songs About H.E.R. feels welcoming enough to invite everyone for the experience.
I assure that if Hip-Hop fans and Jazz fans alike would give this album a try, they would not regret their experience. There isn’t anything extraneously awe-inspiring about this album by any means. It is, in its fruitful core, a beautifully put compilation of work that only the likes of talented musicians such as Sir Froderick and DJ Harrison could construct, and I hope to see more material from them in the future.