Here we have the distilled results of a happy meeting between new collaborators, including Makaya McCraven, Nubya Garcia, Soweto Kinch, Ben LaMar Gay, Quiet Dawn and more. Lots of live fun was had under the CHICAGO X LONDON banner, and the recordings were then taken home for remixing and rearranging by Makaya. The resultant Mixtape is vibrant indeed.
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Where We Come From is a new mixtape by producer Makaya McCraven. The original material was recorded live over two nights in London, as well as remixes done the next day of those original raw recordings, and then taken back to Chicago by McCraven. He then ‘re-composed the music into two continuous side suites’, as states the press release.
Going into listening to this album, I was expecting something lighter and less aggressive but in fact there are parts of this album that remind me of dubstep, dub, techno, and some ambient experimental stuff. To someone who hasn’t listened to this mixtape, the words ‘jazz’ and ‘techno’ should never be uttered in the same sentence but McCraven achieves a harmony between the two. This album isn’t the kind of thing that sits well as background music, it demands your attention. Hear, for instance, the dissonance of ‘The Bounce!’, what sounds like an almost gabber-inspired bass line, and the hardcore hip-hop feel of the last track ‘Where We Come From’. Yes it demands attention, but this is a democratic record and pretty accessible. An element of jazz that could be unappealing for some people is the constant change, be it shifting chords faster than a piano player can keep up with (I’m looking at you, Coltrane), cycling through soloists, or the insanely fast, confusing (CHANGE) tempos of some jazz music. However, Where We Come From is comfortable with settling into a groove and staying there; just take the first half of ‘Ox Tales’ or ‘Too Shy’. A primarily jazz-based mixtape yes, but one that pushes boundaries.
It’s remarkable how cohesive Where We Come From sounds, considering not only the array of different elements to live improvised performance, but also that some remixes were included as well as the geographical distance covered by McCraven in its creation. There are whoops and cheers that are often treated with effects showing how the crowd’s interaction with the performers counts as instrumentation in of itself. It’s clear, then, that Where We Come From is much more than just a mixtape but something of a historical artefact.
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