Richard Russell may have made his name as the boss of XL Records, but he has some production pedigree too - among others, he’s helmed LPs for Bobby Womack and Ibeyi. The cosmopolitan, soulful production style he displayed on those records translates nicely to Everything Is Recorded By Richard Russell. It features a slew of big-name guests - Giggs, Kamasi Washington, Wiki, Sampha and more. The album basically ends up being an enjoyable synthesis of all facets of the XL sound.
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XL mister man Richard Russell has done more than merely oversee records in the label’s monolithic catalogue, having also contributed production chops for Ibeyi and Gil Scott-Herron, to namedrop just a couple of his amazing achievements -- let’s also quickly shame him for helping out Damon Albarn with ‘Everyday Robots’. Embarrassing. His new solo record, ‘Everything is Recorded’, is more a showcase for friends than anything, his bashful production skills getting a runout for a malleable mash-up of all-out, all-star party.
What Russell gets props for here is his staggering directorial vision. These tracks run into each other like he’s crafting a seamless scene-changing experience from fragmented parts of his life -- the move from Ibeyi’s gorgeous “Cane” into the watery, diluted ambient pop of “Purify” (starring Peter Gabriel because why not?), into a further gorgeous home run of “Be My Friend” with Infinite (deep into piano chords, a winning bassline and a rolling, XL’d beat), is staggering. It’s like hearing someone trying to make the most immersive label sampler of all time, and at a point you truly sink into it.
With stellar dance cuts across the spectrum from Obongjayar and Giggs, plus the kinda gorgeous, fanfared R&B we’ve all come to love Sampha for, there’s barely a moment to stop and thank Russell for creating the most fantastic, sprightly beds for these songs to live on top of. A fantastic solo record, but mostly an extremely nice gesture.
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