Jay Daniel – Tala (Watsui High, 2019)

Hippy hoppy trippy technooo hoooooze on a supreme release by the leading light of the current Detroit generation.

Detroit has a predictable habit of curating some of the most interesting and far reaching musicians out there, both today and historically. A curiosity and musical mindedness that has blended styles together so effortlessly, formed by the nature of the city and the flows of genres that have run through its veins since the days of Motown. Hip hop, soul, funk, techno, house, have all merged into one consciousness, with the artists today still feeding off of it and each other, making some unbelievable and breathtaking music in the process. This musical heritage, formed in time, will forever continue to produce talent, who all work under the same umbrella yet each release will remain a standalone, feeding into the city that is Detroit.

Jay Daniel is one such artist who works and operates in one of the many musical crossroads that dot around the city. Confirming his place in the minds of many through his epic 2013 debut EP ‘Scorpio’, his profile soared through his 2016 debut LP ‘Broken Knowz’, a brilliant and timeless release that really got into the hearts too. A captivating and soul searching blend of broken yet soft techno, driving and incessant beats, and then real touches of heartfelt synths that just wrap it all up together. It remains a modern classic, not just due to its musical qualities, but its existence as a record within the many crossroads of Detroits musical DNA, and in fact, the larger electronic landscape in general. This makes Daniel’s music so significant and powerful, his location within this dense map made apparent through his blending of grooves, feels and vibes.

And the vibes don’t stop there, no sir. They evolve and grow! his latest release, ‘Tala’, feels more stripped back, yet by no means less emotive. He focuses more on sonicness, with deeper synths, lessened and simpler drumming patterns, but that thing that remains the same is the evolution. like with his previous LP, the music just evolves and grows so impeccably, moving forward in the most delightful fashion, creating this mix of tunes that will delight listeners for many, many fucking years.

The opener, ‘Shining’, is a 44 second old school techno synth line, that could easily be stretched out over 8 minutes and still sound marvellous. The distorted lows contrast so very well with the swelling highs. It is a marker for the rest of the record to come. Next we have ‘Rapture’, the first long tune of the record. This one starts out over a slow and steady hip hop/downtempo beat, with swelling synths all the way behind (a classic Detroit styling, the synths never over power). The beat is well groovy, and those synths just grow and grow just a bit more and more each time. A little bass line growls underneath, working with the beat superbly, the depth on show here is something else. ‘Lilth’ follows in similar fashion, with another real soft yet beaty drum pattern, underneath the swelling synths (once again!). A nice accompaniment to a fine wine, with the sun setting, sand deep in the cracks of your toes. Little soft key lines rustle around on top, waiting for their moment to show you everything they got. ‘Sundance’ comes next, and continues on with this real beautiful vibe. Chords for days, another damn fine beat, with little key variations playing a big big part here. If those last two songs were more slow and steady, this one brings in just the right amount of new elements to bring the energy up a notch. Simply stunning, mesmerising stuff here, the song locks you in between the varying layers of bliss, from the slightly cymbal to the towering synths in the background, its all there. Just nod your head, sway your shoulders from side to side, its one of those ones.

‘Cherubim’ comes in, and brings it down just a bit. With a full on DJ Harrison vibe, this one has all the goods, a bit more fun and funky, with little keys playing around full of joy over strong and steady stabs. The hip hop element is strong here. ‘Aja’ comes next, and once again the drums take centre stage, with their incessant high toms and carefully curated kicks. Jazzy as hell, the stabs add flavour and balance, and just grows enough to involve you fully in its world. ‘Nestra’ represents a balance of the hip hop with the house, deep deep chords swelling around over a slightly higher tempo rap beat, and provides that little blast of energy we know we needed, or maybe not, this album is solid gold all across the board. ‘Qalbi’ comes next, with its strong as hell chords leading the way. This is another fantastic example of Daniel’s beat construction and understanding, with the drumming on this whole record superb. This might just be this writer’s favourite of the lot. Little G-Funk lines come along and add in one final flavour into a melting pot of deep housey goodness that persists all through out this record. Business end stuff here, with ‘Razi’ adding one final short burst of good sunny vibes. A nice hip hop beat blended with distorted synths – if it aint broke, don’t fix it! Finally, we have ‘Savannah’, and its the best end we could have all hoped for. A final perfect blend of everything, chords, keys and beats galore!

Daniel owns that crossroads. This album, and his debut, are testament to that view, with his view of music and genres, along with his incredible abilities and visions, of what he wants to make. Electronic music needs producers like him, taking that step and bridging that divide between differing worlds. Such is the Detroit way, and such is Jay Daniel’s way.

Support the troops:

https://www.discogs.com/Jay-Daniel-Tala/master/1530126

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