Grey Doubt - The Colours That Rise (Album Review)
1 May 2020
Album Rating 5 / 5
Live Potential 4.5 / 5
Diversity in Songs 4.5 / 5
Favourite Songs Home Time, Atmosphere, Deep Space, Orion's Belt and Beyond
"This is a documentary about black people being on UFO's and black people living on Mars".
The grandeur of the ethereal introduction to the hotly anticipated debut album from London producer duo Simeon Jones and Nathanael Williams, aka The Colours That Rise (TCTR), fantastically relays the vibes of the record - a selection of beats that sinks you into a haze of high, cosmic ambience.
Grey Doubt is a relaxmax record that heavily uses synths to produce a range of deep house tunes fused with modern jazz-funk, hip-hop, broken beat and fuzzy electronica. There is a lo-fi feeling to some of the tunes, such as with the the laidback trip-hop 'Hyper Lace' and the gliding house of 'Get Away' but the ingredients are always similar - the high-pitched synths guide the bass that sits in with the programmed drums, and this drives your head to bop continuously as you smirk at how danktastic the album is.
Thankfully the album has come out just as people are allowed to spend more time outside during lockdown. It's ideal for summer chillin' and bunnin' up in the parks, like with 'Ghost in the Forest' that features a psychedelic guitar twang leading the celestial journey with Yussef Dayes' drums. Some tracks are more dancefloor oriented, such as the house of 'Opacity' arpeggiating through different scales and also 'Deep Space', a delightful hip-mover with a bassline that cascades like a comet rumbling towards Earth.
TCTR claim not to be from Earth though, they voyage around the galaxy visiting Mars and the Moon as they explain their life outside of Earth in an interview with 4:3, who produced their music film Trilogy to accompany Grey Doubt (see video above). Both the album and film snapshot and challenge contemporary notions of conspiracy theories, paranoia, dream states, space and race politics; the film focuses on the loose narrative of a boy who is paranoid that something otherworldly is following him as he confronts questions about what is real, post-truth, possession, confusion and doubt.
Intertwining these political issues with the cosmic sounds of TCTR is abundantly clear in the various interludes that split the record up, detailing the afrofuturist voyage they are embarking on with you as you listen. TCTR explain:
"We wanted to make an audio documentary with some music about a secret history, or what some people might call a conspiracy theory – that black people live on Mars. In a world full of creeping uncertainty about truth, half-truth and post-truth – no information or history can be trusted, not even the fabric of reality."
They take some of the UK's finest musicians on the journey too. Andrew Ashong provides vocals on 'The Juice', a downtempo tune that creeps up and softly elevates you higher. Yussef Dayes features again on the bendy spectacular of 'Orion's Belt and Beyond'; the belt is also known as the 'Three Kings', relating to the three bright stars of Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintak, an appropriate image of TCTR and Dayes in curating this surging high-energy rocket of synth vibrations.
Guitar-maestro Mansur Brown joins Dayes and TCTR on 'Home Time', a jazz-funk classic which undoubtedly is reminiscent of Yussef Kamaal's Black Focus but with the house vibes from the squelching synths that give it an extra galactical dimension. The phat hip-hop beat and soulful keys on 'Atmosphere' match Yazmin Lacey's exquisitely dainty vocals that really are "floating high" as you drift off into another plain of existence.
After their 2017 debut EP 2020 was released on Breaker Breaker, TCTR seemed an obvious match with the house sound of Rhythm Section as the combination of boppers and chillers make this a record at ease in a club as well as in your living room. The soundscapes are crisp presentations of signals from the solar system The Colours That Rise travel through, as they mix live instrumentation and analogue synths knitted with intricate textures and deep melodies reverberating through their electronic jams - a deep-house and jazz-funk triumph.
Buy and stream Grey Doubt here:
Watch Trilogy and read their 4:3 interview here:
Follow and keep up to date with The Colours That Rise here: