Album review: Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music
The phrase “genre definition” is probably overused in the music industry, but it is the only term that can be used to describe this fruitful and expansive collaboration between two artists from very different disciplines.
Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes may be artists from different disciplines, but they are undoubtedly two artists who have taken similar paths. Both artists are originally from South London, grew up in Peckham and therefore take advantage of South London’s vibrant and diverse jazz scene. 25-year-old musician and producer Misch burst onto the scene in 2018 with his debut studio album Geography, showcasing his guitar riffs and hip-hop style of production. Dayes took a different path – the talented jazz drummer was one half of ‘Yussef Kamaal’, an experimental project that culminated in a critically acclaimed release in 2016.
After meeting in 2018, the duo spent two years creating What Kinda Music. The contrast between the album’s fascinating experimental nature and the light, playful vibe is evident throughout, underscored by Dayes’ infectious drum beats.
– Tom Misch (@TomMisch) October 2, 2020
There is no doubt that What Kinda Music is a massive leap from Misch’s latest album Geography, probably to the disappointment of many of his loyal fans. I myself am a huge fan of his previous work, I was as impressed as I was shocked when I heard the opening track / title ‘What Kinda Music’. It’s a dark, experimental song that immediately sets the tone for the whole album. Dayes’ punchy drums create an intense atmosphere that would captivate fans of Geography by surprise. Or Geography was perhaps too crisp and potentially insincere in its eye-catching nature, this new collaborative project exudes authenticity.
Synth bass and fast drums help create this extreme emotion for the listener
The intense atmosphere continues in the next song ‘Festival’, showcasing Misch’s impressive production abilities. The bass synth and the fast drums help to create this extreme emotion for the listener, an emotion difficult to put the finger on but which is of course unique to each listener. Side A of this project tells you what Yussef Dayes is all about, with his delicious drum beats cleverly placed a little higher in the mix.
Dayes’ impact on the album cannot be seen more clearly than on the track “Nightrider”. This, one of my personal favorites, is almost like the big sigh of relief you need immediately after the intensity of the “Festival”. It’s definitely a song made for warm summer evenings, or just for a relaxing stroll in the sun, as the official music video shows. The repeating drum pattern, paired with a wonderfully crafted bassline by Tom Driesler, creates a smooth groove that the listener can simply get lost in. The function of this song is almost a surprise, with Freddie Gibbs layering a wonderful verse at the end, adding to the overall fluid vibe (“Should I bless the track or let it breathe?”).
My album with @TomMisch is out now !! It has been a blessed journey to ride the record with T & I’m glad you can hear it now.
I love everyone showing their support !!
You can listen to it here: https://t.co/HYJSyDyjuI
Yuss ??? pic.twitter.com/ECvlCTfxv3
– Yussef (@YussefDayes) April 25, 2020
It’s very clear that Misch and Dayes bring out the best in each other. The tight drum-guitar playing is shown everywhere and especially in songs such as “Lift Off” and “Kyiv”. Perhaps the two most experimental tracks on the album, they remind the listener how good guitarist Misch really is – something that Geography could not show to the same extent. These two songs can also be seen as a reference to the duo’s jazz roots, showing what can be done when two great musicians improvise and perform in the same room.
The female presence adds a different energy to the album, and also brings a soul element to the music.
The most recognizable Misch still exists on this album; its playful side is reflected in the songs “The Real” and “Last 100”. Fans who are more familiar with his past discography are probably drawn to these songs, as they display his catchy guitar riffs and positive lyrics. “The Real” is a nice reminder of her hip-hop production skills, cutting out a sample of Aretha Franklin to create a catchy and enjoyable song. The female presence adds a different energy to the album, and also brings a soul element to the music.
After 42 minutes of deep adventure, calm is found in the last piece “Storm Before the Calm” through the peaceful saxophone of Kaidi Akinnibi. This jazzy ending to the project brings the listener back to Earth and is a fitting ending to the euphoric escape that Misch and Dayes take you to.
What Kinda Music is an album that gets better every time you hear it. An album that I often compare it to is In the rainbows by Radiohead; Misch said the legendary band had a great influence on him and you can tell from his use of the falsetto throughout. What sort of music. But it’s more than just the falsetto. There is something distinct and authentic that stands out, a euphoria that remains constant throughout, and that’s why this album will remain one of the greatest.
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