Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Key Elements "Key Elements"

Sonar Kollektiv has been waiting for it anxiously: Key Elements‘ debut album leads Jazz music into the new decade down-the-line. The music Key Elements create is fresh, merciless and ruthless and has always the finger on the pulse of the time. The album‘s eight tracks are all far away from Broken Beat nostalgia or Beat-making nerdism, they breathe inspiration from the young, thriving British jazz scene. Key Element‘s initiator, DJ and producer Marian Tone, built up a reputation in the Berlin hip hop, soul and jazz scene over the years (also as a co-founder of Beatkollektiv). With all of his compositions you always feel this heritage and his love and passion for hiphop. But the other two allys within «Key Elements», drummer Waldi and the keyboard or bass player Jim Dunloop made their contribution with compositions and ideas as well. An album which was initially designed to be a mere solo project became an effort of a trio over the years being inherently consistent.

Already the opening track «Mike Needs Sugar» shows the direction this album will take us: To the land of the good groove. It‘s here where the three thoroughbred musicians feel on top of the world obviously and deliver one luscious track after the other. From the cheerful «Morning Boom» to the kinda furtively laid back «Impossible» and the final «Funky Dave», which could be on an Italian soundtrack from the 70‘s every single tone and note from «Key Elements» is great fun. Especially because even when you listen to it a second, third or fourth time you will discover new nuances and niceties again and again. As is right and proper for really good jazz album. 

Berlin based DJ and producer Marian Tone came up with the name «Key Elements» long before forming the trio that now puts forward a promising album on Sonar Kollektiv. After the release of two EPs («EP One» and «Beats vs. Bad Karma» both on Dooinit Music) the expertly and sought-after DJ with a background in Hiphop, Soul and Jazz consequently ventured to record his debut album. Marian’s idea was to produce music that sounds organically abandoning the use of samples completely but only focusing on own compositions. But things didn’t turn out as planned at all.

Some years ago Marians’ brother Markus, introduced him to the drummer Waldi who already in the 90’s cut a dash locally with his two-man-drummer-live project «Analogue Freestyle». That’s how Marius and Waldi arranged for an initial mutual session. During which Waldi laid drums over the beats that were destined for Marian’s upcoming album «Key Elements». Both were mutually impressed by the outcome to the extend that they decided to record some tracks and to form a band. Suddenly the solo project «Key Elements» had turned into a group. In early 2019 the group was completed by including the befriended keyboard player Jim Dunloop. The highly gifted piano virtuoso is working as a producer for quite some time now and for instance has released his debut album «Opus 76BPM» on BBE. On «Key Elements» you can hear him on bass though. He contributed some of his own compositions as well. In the following months the eight songs in total were recorded in different studios in Berlin (f.e. the Butterama Music Recording Studio or the SB Drums-Studio run by Sascha Bachmann). They already had the chance to set the house on fire with their up-to-now unreleased material at several locations, f.e. at the Badehaus next to J. Lamotta & Blue Lab Beats, at Klunkerkranich in Neukölln, at the XJAZZ Festival, at the Fete De La Hip Hop and at the Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM Party in the Kreuzberg Club Gretchen as a part of the Steve Reid Foundation.

«Key Elements» have created exactly what Sonar Kollektiv was waiting for: No-holds-barred modern sounding Jazz far away from Broken Beat nostalgia or Beatmaking nerdism. Of course you can hear Marian Tone’s love for hiphop in all of the eight tracks, but similar to the young and dynamic UK jazz secene this love is transported into a new free form. Laid-back and positive melodies invite to listen carefully to the music which surprises again and again: Different time signatures, infuriating arrangements and tempo changes give the album some sense of complexity without being complicated. Even though Marian Tone is the key element of «Key Elements» you notice quickly that here three musicians interchange on equal terms and have the time of their life!

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