Late Night Tales: Jordan Rakei (Album Review)
9 April 2021
Late Night Tales
Album rating 4/5
It's always exciting to see brilliant artists handpick tracks that mean something special to them, especially when they're mixes that compliment the late-night, ceiling-gazing moods.
From Khruangbin to Floating Points, Hot Chip and Nils Frahm, hordes of big names have offered their sonic tapestries to the Late Night Tales project. The latest compilation is from New Zealand-born Australian-raised neo-soul giant, Jordan Rakei. The release also marks the 20th anniversary of the Late Night Tales series.
Rakei’s mix is a nourishing, eighteen-track homage to the music of his friends and influences, which expands the genres of jazz, soul, hip-hop and electronica. The compilation intersects between familiar names, like Alfa Mist, Charlotte Day Wilson and Joe Armon-Jones, to hidden gems and to tunes from Jordan Rakei himself.
"My idea of Late Night Tales was to distil a series of relaxing moments; the whole conceptual sonic of relaxation," says Rakei.
He opens with a fragmented, electronic ballad called ‘Covering Your Tracks’ by Fink. The song has a warped quality to it with vocals that immediately made me think of Rakei’s singing style. The mix then blends into Alfa Mist’s ‘Mulago’; the third track of Structuralism, an album which Jordan Rakei features in.
The transition into Charlotte Day Wilson’s ‘Mountains’ is a satisfying one, as the grooving jazz and hip hop falls into gospel-inflected melodies. Charlotte Day Wilson is known for her 2016 track ‘Work’ as well as collaborating with BADBADNOTGOOD.
While delivering on the Late Night Tales prompt of relaxing music, Jordan Rakei also wanted to use his mix to showcase the music of his friends.
"I was trying to think of all the collaborators and friends that I knew, who’d recorded stuff with this horizontal vibe. Plus, I was also trying to help my friends' stuff get into the world."
Rakei draws upon the significance this project was for Khruangbin in getting their music out into the world and explains that he hopes it will have the same effect for his friends who feature in his mix.
He also gives us some new exclusive tracks, which include both Jordan Rakei originals and covers of songs from Jeff Buckley and Radiohead.
The fourth track of the mix is ‘Count A Heart’ from Moreton, which features Jordan Rakei on vocals. It's an emotive and cinematic piece of songwriting and comes in smoothly from the melodic R&B tunes before, perfectly encapsulating the essence of Jordan Rakei’s music.
Puma Blue’s ‘Untitled 2’ was one of my favourite songs. A clean guitar plays jazz chords under soothing soulful vocals; it’s a stripped-back, organic song that really hits the spot and is reminiscent of King Krule.
Connan Mockasin’s ‘Momo’s’ provides an interplay between guitar and bass under the vocals. The singing felt like an amalgamation of Rakei’s style with Bon Iver.
Rakei’s Late Night Tales takes us through the electronic soundscapes of C Duncan and to the funk of Oso Leone, before the jazz-dance sounds of Joe Armon-Jones and Oscar Jerome with ‘Idiom’.
Every track was interesting and unique and together they result in a mix that seems to encapsulate Jordan Rakei. They are firmly grounded in melody amid their electronic and soul-inflected atmospheres.
Rakei’s own tracks are the songs that would make his fans most excited, however. He covers a Jeff Buckley song, ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ - it’s a beautiful showcase of Rakei’s vocal skills, which float above electric keys. The mix seamlessly weaves into his cover of Radiohead’s ‘Codex’ where a staccato pedal pounds like a heartbeat throughout the song.
The ambience of Cubicolour’s ‘Counterpart’ follows before Jordan Rakei’s ‘Imagination’, a new original track. The song has a cinematic feel to it with warping synths and strings.
The mix concludes on a spoken word piece, also titled ‘Imagination’, from Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Jordan Rakei's Late Night Tales compilation is a fine concoction of melodic-centred songs, electronic-ambient phases, and grooving soul and jazz tracks. As a mix, it is representative of the music Jordan Rakei makes, and the sounds and atmospheres he and his contemporaries experiment with.
Go have a listen.
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