David D’Angelo’s ‘Born in Paradise’ is a surprising, well constructed, groovy set of tracks that probably deserve to be a lot more well known.The pianist/producer demonstrates his jazzy competency playing with interesting ideas, chords and progressions. The tracks mainly consist of core jazz piano part ranging from airy ballad inspired pieces to thick synth movements reminiscent of producers like Mndsgn or Dam-Funk. Drums are often hard and swung, borrowing elements from hip hop and jazz fusion. The bass is thick, sometimes subby and electronic. Production embellishments like glitching and stuttered (and sometimes funky and Ayers-esque) synth parts also find themselves in the mix. A particularly good saxophone solo courtesy of someone called Rêverend Yogi winds its way through the album’s second track Moon Influences Man. The sonic choices in terms of drum samples, synth tones and arrangement are particularly tasteful and surprisingly diverse, ranging from the kind of crisp sounds you might expect on a contemporary fusion record (by the likes of Snarky Puppy or NZ’s own Yoko-Zuna) to dusty, low-fi and detuned, more like you might expect on an underground hip hop release. The record sounds incredibly professional in general, recorded in Esplanade Studios in New Orleans. Why ‘Born in Paradise’ has flown quite under the radar is unclear, but D’angelo is definitely one to watch out for, and demonstrates some intense musical flair that would be great to see in action over in NZ be it in collaboration, live shows or just more record play.
*Note: David D’Angelo is an American student spending a term on exchange with Massey University