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Album Review: ‘What Kinda Music’ – Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes

Written by Album reviews, Music

The album is a product of the collaboration between fellow south-east Londoners Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, both of whom are highly regarded in the UK’s contemporary jazz scene.  This is evident within What Kinda Music, with jazz pulsing throughout, complimented by aspects of R&B and hip hop. This sounds like it should be a recipe for a straight up vibey soundtrack. It didn’t captivate me however.

Misch is best known for his 2018 album Geography and he brings his talent for catchy rifts and lyrics sung in his raspy yet gentle voice to this latest release. Dayes is a progressive and virtuosic jazz drummer with experimental tendencies, most well-known for his work in the Yussef Kamaal project. The duo unmistakably complement one another but there isn’t much variation across the songs, which fail to leave a strong impact. There’s no doubting the highly skilled musicianship demonstrated throughout the album and I enjoy the fusion of acid jazz with electronica. It would be a good album to stick on while lying out in the summer sun, but it I don’t feel deeply connected to it. Although, the more I have listened to it, the more I have come to appreciate it, as it is clear Misch and Dayes enjoyed making it.

‘Nightrider’ is the standout track on the album. Featuring US rapper Freddie Gibbs, it feels fresh and provides a mellow late-night feeling; the guitar strings adding a deep warmth. ‘Julie Mangos’ too has a charm to it, and is an endearing and warming track. A voice on it declares “I think it’s better than Geography,” which is bold to include but I admire the decision to do so. 

The album name and title track registers Misch and Dayes’ discussion regarding ‘What Kinda Music’ they want to create together. The track is a dry drum beat with a funky element, complemented by soothing melodies. Misch responded to criticism of the album on twitter writing: “I read a bad review of the album saying it “sounds like they’re just jamming”…yes, that’s the whole point of the project lol”. While that may be the case, I feel the album leads you down a winding path and gives the impression they are setting you up for a punchy release, but one isn’t provided.

I think Charlotte Krol’s NME review of the album sums up my feelings: “while they were clearly having fun, it was probably more fun to make than it is to hear.”  

Last modified: 5th May 2020

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