Reviewed by Elsie Williams

Muroki: Headin East EP

Reviewed by Elsie Williams

Muroki: Headin East EP

Raglan-raised singer/songwriter/producer Muroki Mbote Wa Githinji provides the outro for spring and an early soundtrack for summer with his sophomore EP ‘Heading East’, intertwining the genres of reggae, pop, dub, roots and more in between. 

With Kenyan roots and a Kiwi upbringing, diversity is clearly injected into these soulful numbers. Signed by Olive Records at the ripe age of 19, Muroki recorded these tunes with co-producers Josh Fountain, Djeisan Suskov and Evan Sinton. 

‘Heading East’ opens with Introducing, Muroki greeting listeners with echoey vocals before breaking into a leisurely light-hearted skank. After three years of pondering on this delectable reggae tune he released Introducing as the second pre-EP single. The song can most easily be described as a replica of the feeling of bringing people together, through the groove of his 2/4 rhythm.

Simple Pleasures packs a sweet summery punch with immediate drum fill into a quick-paced groovy tune. With “no stress inside his mind”, this pop tune reflects the kind of tune you’d blow your speakers out to as you breeze past the oceanside, windows down of course. Funky organ-like chords pace the rhythm for the finger taps on the steering wheel, head bopping to the beat.

Heading East isolates Muroki with only simple strummed guitar, piano and the smooth minor tones of his rich voice. This smooth tone serenades the ears as he delves into his travels through Europe. The simple, yet effective four chord progression quickly evolves to a delicately jazzy tune, the arpeggio piano enhancing the melancholy feel of the piece, the lyrics complimenting the sense of a time that is no longer. Holistically Heading East invites the idea of a distant memory, striking off key notes inserted as well as deep bass to emit an eerie feeling.

Continuing the nostalgic wave, Muroki goes back to his Kenyan roots with Found In Nairobi, another tale of recollection or reflection, this one inspired by literally being lost in Nairobi with his cousin, at age 12. Sliding down the fret into the song is a mellow melody from the electric guitar and bass, followed by a repetitious chord progression and dulcet drums. The tune doesn’t steer far away from the vibey major 7 chords, but little assets such as reverbed guitar riffs, oooo’s in the verses, Moroccan shakers, organ chords and more jazzy piano amplifies the wistful nature of the track.

Muroki steers away from self-rumination, driving towards a direction of lust and love with ex-lovers, who may happen to bump past each other on the dance floor.

Redirecting the EP for the closing two tracks, Up In The Air exhibits a seductive slow burn in the verses through percussive bass and shakers, slowly lifting into a chorus full of funk, with a sprinkle of a toe-tapping guitar. This radio endorsed pop number gently lifts you onto your feet for a boogie, providing a great warmup for the bop that follows.

The final destination on Muroki’s’ Heading East’ journey is Find Me, a bright and funky summer anthem, that has him enticing the audience to “come on and dance”, followed quickly by synthetic sounds of deep bass and colourful chords. Trumpets sound as Muroki sings to brilliantly bring his travels through music to an end.

The beauty of ‘Heading East’ is its versatile nature, the six tracks resonating with many different musical aspects, among which any listener will find a tune to suit their current vibe.

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