I wanted to review this when it was first released on June 14th but alas life got in the way. Work and a holiday landed just so when it dropped. But having that space to fully digest this piece gave me ample time for reflection, and frankly it was too good not to put some words to paper (albeit digitally).
Previous albums “Metronom” (2014) and “Cenário” (2016) were the beatmakers homage’s to Paris and Lisbon respectively. Here on “Transit”, FloFilz turns to London and specifically its thriving jazz scene for musical inspiration. Originally from Germany the title of this album came from travelling from his home of Aachen to the UK capital.
Across 18 beautiful, smooth tracks we are treated to a range of sonic elements, with jazz sensibilities and instrumentation, from filtered guitars, tremolo laden flutes, vamping keys to glissando heavy clarinets and muted brass, each layer complimented by brushed snares or tight drum patterns locking everything in place. The jazz influence is noticeable, with live instrumentation lending a personal touch, the ebb and flow of rubato, refusing to conform to hip-hop’s traditionally rigidly programmed structure. This is music for quiet contemplation, relaxing and deciphering the intricacies that are present throughout. And it is these variances that are so rewarding, keeping everything fresh and interesting, allowing repetition to become anything but monotonous.
The entire affair is predominantly instrumental however Londoner Barney Artist and Irish singer Biig Piig provide their vocal talents on a couple of tracks, providing yet another level and help establish a change of pace. Production is handled by FloFilz of course who also can turn his hand to guitar and violin it transpires, however, as with the bustling London Jazz scene, collaboration is key with K, Le Maestro and Alfa Mist at hand to assist with keys and bass duty.
The standout track here comes midway through on “Camberwell”. A joint effort with the aforementioned Alfa Mist, a talented producer/composer, one of London’s very own who also released a jazz inspired record, Structuralism, back in April. A soft saxophone leads, backed by a sparse drum kit and subtle clap, ever present throughout as the dynamics of the track bob and weave. Alfa Mist’s Keys fade in as the sax melts away and drums settle to a simmer before thudding back with a sturdy bass. Strings close the track out with space to breath as the other instrumentation dissolves. The track’s passages and phrasing evoke such sheer joy I can’t help but lean closer in a fruitless attempt to somehow envelop myself in the rich tapestry of sound.
But this is no fluke, this is a diamond in a pile of precious gemstones, each track something to behold and inspect, to savour, to revisit, to discover more.
We may only be halfway through the year so I’m hesitant to proclaim anything concrete, but this must be up in the ranks as contender for Album of the Year. A calming, yet powerful, auditory journey to the metropolis of London. An immersive trip which can be taken from the comfort of your armchair.
Album Rating: Highly Recommended.
Poor: 0-2 Stars / Favourable: 2-4 Stars / Highly Recommended: 4-5 Stars