sat 13/07/2024

Album: Kaidi Taitham - The Only Way | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Kaidi Taitham - The Only Way

Album: Kaidi Taitham - The Only Way

Rich dancefloor jazz fusions from enduring Brit mega talent

The broken beat movement, centred on West London around the turn of the millennium, wasn’t super press friendly. Its complex rhythms were eclipsed in the populism stakes by its close cousin UK garage, and serious commentators didn’t really know what to do with a broadly working class, multicultural scene that was aspirational and privileged virtuosic production and musicianship.

Indeed there was a distinct inverted snobbery in the refusal refusal to treat it with the respect afforded other electronic music which fit into a scholarly vs “street” dichotomy.

The movement itself, which could certainly be insular and had snobberies of its own, didn’t seem to care particularly, and – bar a 2005 hit in “Booty (La La)” for broken beat supergroup Bugz In The Attic, all but disappeared from mainstream view. The musicians involved certainly never stopped, though. After all, the kind of musical prowess involved can’t come from dilletantes: the likes of Daz-I-Kue, Alex Phountzi, IG Culture, Dego and Marc Mac of 4Hero, Mark de Clive-Lowe and co are lifers. All have continued making remarkable music and – crucially – also a framework for new musicians to build on, most notably the new British generation of jazz artists currently making wave.

Midlands-born, Belfast-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Kaidi Taitham is case in point. The hype or lack thereof around broken beat was never going to affect his constant flow of music – alone or in session work, DJing or dozens of collaborative projects. Thus, almost a quarter century from his debut EP, he’s still rolling out the jams, still with at least one foot on the dancefloor, and still applying extraordinary finesse to every elements. On this, his eighth album, there are large helpings of Donald Byrd style 70s funk, a gorgeous 90s-rooted hip hop jam with rapper Uhmeer (son of the legend and occasional Taitham collaborator DJ Jazzy Jeff), some slow Latin-flavoured house and – in the second half – full on fusion wig-outs.

The latter especially may be rather rich sauce for some, and indeed this album as a whole is unlikely to win you over if you’re not primed for complicated jazz chord sequences. That said, at its most laid back on tracks like “The Most Wanted Puffin” and the title track you’d have to be pretty curmudgeonly not to at least nod along – and if you are in the mood for a rich musical meal, it’s absolutely jam packed with stimulation and excitement. Moreover, it’s ample evidence that the musical wellspring that burst out in broken beat 20+ years ago is still every bit as vital as it ever was.

@joemuggs

Listen to "The Only Way": 

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