Probably best known for his collaborative project with Kyle Hall - FunkinEvil, and after Having put out a couple of 12” releases on his own Apron Records Steven Julien brings his first solo full length. 12 tracks, in two definite halves. Starting light and breezy with almost jazz-like percussion and bass experimentation then moving into tighter locked in grooves.
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Probably best known for his Funkineven collaboration with Kyle Hall, here is Steven Julien’s debut which shows him on the rear sleeve with arm dangling down from a BMW convertible on a tarmac jetty next to the ocean. He lives my life.
The album starts out in jazz fusion style and the opening brief ‘Begins’ and the more realised wobble of ‘Chantel’ will appeal to fans of Thundercat. The latter has some glorious funk/slap bass of which Stevie Wonder would be proud however Julien never fully realises these tracks, there are no beats as such just some flowing percussion. After this jazzy opening, Julien tightens up with some slicker beat laden sounds such as the disconcerting slightly atonal house of ‘XL’. He’s all over the place stylistically taking in burbling low end funk on ‘Marie’ and glorious stoned synth experiments. What I thought was going to be a smooth album of Brainfeeder style jazz-tronica soon turns darker and although it genre hops a little too much for cohesion there are some great moments such as the bleep ever ascending house of ‘Jedi’ and the clattery drum and bass Squarepusher-ish mess that is ‘Disciple’.
It’s a bafflingly diverse album and Julien reminds me a little of Dean Blunt in how he takes wild chances with the music which sometimes is clunkily naive as if Julien is mashing his synths with a large fist. Interesting unsettling stuff.
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