FOTO: THERESE VADUM
Genre: Jazz-fusion, Instrumental
‘cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air’ is Athletic Progression’s third album, released last month on Touching Bass (13th August 2021). The Danish-trio hailing from Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, reference the likes of Herbie Hancock, D’Angelo and Flying Lotus as inspirations for their distinctive sound.
The album opens to the simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar sounds of a ringtone. It resonates in a minor key with a descending cadence that acts as a precursor for the album’s subsequent earthy jazz meanderings. The 7 second prelude jump cuts to percussive bass kicks, introducing us to the distinctive drum patterns of Jonathan J. Ludvigsen in JUNGELEN. Then enters Jonas Cook’s ethereal keys and Justo Gambula’s bouncing bass licks.
There is a fury to the jazz that is interspersed with melodic narrative, keeping things hopeful and undeniably funky. The drums trip over one another in cascading rhythm reminiscent of the late Tony Allen and Afrobeat. The track OSAKA, clearly speaks to this with the footwork and uptempo bounce of the hi-hats and snare overplayed with luscious key melodies.
The album oozes dramatics and the Officer Jimmy interlude recordings beautifully juxtapose the Danes’ sound with the new jazz that has permeated South London’s scene since the seminal work of Yussef Kamaal’s 2016 ‘Black Focus’ (which producer Eric Lau also worked on).
Cooked Ones, Pt. II offers a sumptuous slow groove that earths the listener after the freneticism and intricate journey through DEBRA. The highlight of this album for me is definitely MOUSSAS FINEST. The soulful base groove and the high energy drums immediately had me on my feet, before it breaks down into rippling piano keys and rising bass lines. The discordant chords that end the track perfectly encapsulate the album’s title ‘cloud high in dreams but heavy in the air’.
There is a fury to the jazz that is interspersed with melodic narrative, keeping things hopeful and undeniably funky.
Although the album would be in safe hands as a jazz record this would be too simplistic a diagnosis, as there are undeniably cross-genre influences from hip-hop, afrobeat, neo-soul and broken-beat to pick a few. While I had the pleasure of first listening to the album on vinyl, it would be foolish of me not to state that this impressive album would be best appreciated live.
If you like the following artists, then this album will be right up your street: Yussef Kamaal, Mansur Brown, Kaidi Tatham, KOKOROKO
Favourite Track: MOUSSAS FINEST.
Upcoming Athletic Progression UK tour dates: 9th – 16th November 2021
Highlight upcoming gig:
16th November 2021 – Touching Bass with Athletic Progression & Demae – The Blues Kitchen, Manchester.
Buy full album on vinyl + digital album