Beyond the Groove / Blue Note
Released: 24th April 2020
Album Rating: 4.5/5
Favourite Songs: Nightrider / The Real / Lift Off
What Kinda Music? Well, that’s a very good question. Indie jazz? Hip-hop? R&B with hints of electronica? As the title hints, that really doesn’t need answering as it doesn’t matter. Carrying the torch of genreless music, South London pair Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes have teamed up to create an engaging and expansive project which pushes both artists into unchartered territory. A journey defined by vivid colours and flair.
Young producer and singer-songwriter Tom Misch has been heading towards becoming a household name over the past few years, recognised for his catchy melodic writing which has captured his fan base. Alternatively, Yussef Dayes has come up through the jazz underground scene and his own cult following, creating a real name for himself with the duo Yussef Kamaal before going onto release material independently after the duo split. Having known each other for years through their South London settings, the pair reunited at a release event for Geography which became the spark for What Kinda Music. Although the pair may be from musically different backgrounds, the project shows that they jell well and highlight their broad musicality as they tap into each another’s’ energy.
From the get-go, you realise that What Kinda Music is a deviation from Misch’s previous style. Drawing on the vigour of live performance and jams, the record isn’t overproduced and helps to paint an encompassing musical atmosphere. The title-track immediately immerses us with psychedelic vibes, powered by deep thundering synths, Misch’s high howling vocals, lush swooping strings and Dayes’ punchy punctuated drums. ‘Festival’ encapsulates the free, swirling spirit of these summer gatherings. As painful as it is casting our minds on these beautiful settings in the time of Corona, the nostalgia of this bliss is intoxicating. This wistful dreamscape continues through the cool West Coast hip-hop vibes of ‘Nightrider’, where we see superb musicianship as we hear Dayes and Tom Driessler’s bass rhythmically dance, Misch’s vocal harmonies burst through in the chorus while Freddie Gibbs’ free-flowing verse flawlessly matches the scene. Rounding off the first half, we see brilliant sonic shapes with ‘Tidal Wave’ through the juxtaposition of Dayes’ dramatic drumming and Misch’s silky vocals, whilst the mighty Aretha Franklin’s vocals are channelled for ‘The Real’ to create the summery jazz-hop feel.
The second, funkier, half of the album beings with ‘Lift Off’, a masterclass of musical prowess. The song teems with energy and vibrance, styled by a stunning conversation between Rocco Palladino’s pulsating bass and Misch’s replying guitar, whilst Dayes’ inspired drumming glues the two together. ‘I Did It For You’ and ‘Last 100’ are characteristic of that “classic Tom Misch” sound - bright and airy. ‘Kyiv’ sees the musicians really stretch their legs, showcasing class instrumental passages from both players and helping to reinforce that Dayes is one of the best fucking drummers on the scene. The trance-like ‘Julie Mangos’ builds you to the final song ‘Storm Before The Calm’, which is the perfect outro to the album with the staunch beat of Dayes’ drumming allowing Kaidi Akinnibi’s powerful sax playing to let loose and riff us out.
Atmospheric and immersive, What Kinda Music exhibits the collaborative force of the contemporary music scene. It’s emotive and contemplative approach is enchanting, and it shows how Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, who come from different musical settings, are able to bring out the best of each other. Spanning styles and sounds, both musicians stretch each other in different ways to create an impressive and profound work.
Keep up-to-date with Tom Misch here:
Keep up-to-date with Yussef Dayes here: