Artwork by Jamie Littler
There are hundreds of producers out there slicing up psychedelic beats in the style of Flying Lotus but few do it as well as Alphabet’s Heaven. – Knowledge Magazine
2nd release from King Deluxe with eleven lush beat constructions from Alphabets Heaven. With a similar style to his forerunner on the label, Fancy Mike, Alphabets Heaven makes malleable HipHop downbeats with plenty of headroom. ‘All Night and ‘Blue Garden’ have a twinge of the Fly Lo, basically due to that flush of astral harps and killer beat programming, while ‘Squares’ hits that woozy Teebs style and ‘Devil’ absorbs inspirations from disco and electro inna very 2011 style. A must check for fans of the headiest, psyched out LA HipHop sound.
Perfect for: Giving Mary-Anne Hobbs multiple orgasms.
The drop: Incredibly complex, playful, trippy and danceable all at once, Jay’s Odyssey showcases electronica in its highest artistic form; on Woman, the angelic voice of Alessi Laurent-Marke combines with warped basslines and a summery, Delorean-style vibe that just makes you sit back and go, ‘wow’. Darma’s warbling and ethereal melody gets chopped and intersected; Walk On is a floating psychedelic dream played with a glitchy digital signal. Front to back, the record is just cosmic: the closest thing you’ll have to a sober candyflip. It invites you to relax on your couch, get up for a dance or just to wave your arms around; every track flows in mind-bending ways over multiple genres at once. Sure, it’s experimental as fuck, but if these are the results, then send a gift basket to the lab.
Experimental beats and loops are the dish of the day in Alphabets Heaven, served with a psychedelic soufflé infused with funky flavours and a soulful sonic sauce. An atmospheric soundscape underpinned by synths and drum machines, the album actually creates a narrative which admittedly requires some prior explanation – it’s inspired by a blue jay who goes to space to find a new garden or something. But overall it’s a very decent offering, a tricksy and novel alternative for lovers of beats and hip hop.
I was sent a copy of this album recently and was struck by how different and unique it is by comparison to much of the music people send me. Be warned, your mind may be expanded by this one!
Alphabets Heaven is the alias of Jonny Wildey hailing from the UK and his album Jay’s Odyssey is his first release with the local label King Deluxe (currently based out of Calgary and occasionally Vancouver.) Futurebass, 2step and Garage lovers pay attention, this album is for you! It’s a cool, almost smooth jazz at times, inspired mix of sounds that are reminicent of a retrofuturistic universe. I watched the movie Wall-E last night for the first time and some of the tones and robotic sounds I can hear in this album are close to what I heard in the movie last night. At times I can even hear bits that remind me of the sounds Kid Koala makes when he scratches up his various worldly records.
I wasn’t quite sure about this album at first but after coming back to it and giving it another listen it grew on me. I’m sure mainly because I noticed unique meditative and relaxing feelings that I’d get when listening. There’s a bit of everything on this album; from the glitchy introduction of Blue Garden to the soulful female vocals in Women (featuring Alessi’s Ark) to the hypy feelings in Devil. I’m betting that you’re most likely bound to find something on this album that grows on you.
On his premiere Alphabets Heaven release, Jay’s Odyssey, London, England-based Jonny Wildey serves up thirty-two minutes of brain-addling stutter-funk that’ll have you cranking up the system, easing back, and soaking up the serenading tunes. Wildey’s boombastic head-nod has its ears close to the ground, as it picks up signals from innovative beat-makers on both sides of the Atlantic. Listening to Alphabets Heaven’s tripped-out brew, names like Flying Lotus, Teebs, and Eskmo come to mind, but there are nevertheless hints of a personalized vision in play, even if parallels can be drawn to like-minded producers in this post-Dilla era.
“Blue Garden” gets things started promisingly with a dizzying swirl of harp strums, skeletal bass throb, and synthesizer squeals gradually giving way to legato electric guitar strums and wiry beats. With a vocal borrowed from Alessi’s Ark album Notes from the Treehouse (Virgin, 2009), “Woman” can’t help but call Flying Lotus to mind, given the way the vocal snakes its way through a stuttering playground of harps and hazy beats. “Walk On” likewise finds snippets of female vocalists straddling the edges of a neon-lit, clip-hop pulse, while “Devil,” driven by a broken beat pulse, wends a funkier route through its flickering landscape of vocal fragments and synth flares. Wildey even takes a few moments to dip into drum’n’bass during “All Night” though the tune rarely stays in place long enough to be reduced to a simple genre exercise. The closing track “Elizabeth” (featuring Jo D’s soulful murmur) suggests Wildey’s music works best when he settles into a particular groove and allows the material to develop organically out of it. The mini-album’s fresh cuts roll through slow-motion head nod (“Squuaares”) and tripped-out boom-bap (“Frank”), splattering its stop-start rhythms with vocal fragments and sub-bass thunder along the way. Jay’s Odyssey certainly sounds like a promising debut to these ears, and one expects that next time ‘round Wildey’s sound will be even more fully-formed than it is here.
Ezúttal is négy különböző stílusból került ki az idei tél utolsó zenei ajánlata. Lássuk, hogy mit hozott ki az időközben a BBC esti híradójának főcímét is megremixelő Jamie xx a nála cirka negyven évvel idősebb Gil Scott-Heron tavalyi lemezéből; mennyire hű saját kiadójának egyedi hangzásához a következő Fabric mixet szállító francia house producer Agoria; lehet-e ismeretlenségből előlépve egy Flying Lotus-szintű debütalbummal befutni; illetve hogy lehet a kedvencem az egykori Napalm Death húrszaggatójának legújabb EP-je.
Alphabet’s Heaven’s debut, “Jay’s Odyssey”, follows Fancy Mike’s on young upstart label King Deluxe. If these are the mere first steps of this outfit, to say that I’m enthusiastic about its coming momentum would be an understatement.
After garnering a lot of well-deserved attention, Alphabets Heaven drops his debut album on suitably beats-based label King Deluxe. Jagged grooves combine with soulful vocal snippets and floods of mellowed-out, but glitchy synths. Alphabets eschews traditional formulae, incorporating a wide musical spectrum, from the lopsided late night session that is “Squaarres” to the pseudo-Drum’n’Bass of “All Night”, while keeping it in a future HipHop/beats style. Vocal samples and recordings, including those by Jo Donnelly in “Elizabeth” are treated sparingly but effectively, further adding to the mesmerising otherworld that the sound occupies.
The guitar comes out on a few tracks such as “Jung”, adding new dimensions, but being so integrated into the rest of the album’s fabric that you barely notice the fact that it was played live rather meticulously programmed. His live sets hint further at this, with drum parts and hectic synth lines being played on a trigger pad – the Youtube video of “Darma” showcases this. The torrents of harps that appear on album opener “Blue Garden” may nod to Flying Lotus, but don’t be fooled; Alphabets is making imaginative music in his original and trademark style!
On King Deluxe, Johnny Wildey’s album gets truly glitched-up, but who’s in control – the producer or the genre?
The temptation when a genre is defined by a simple trait is for the artist to focus on the characteristics of the genre rather than to innovate with its form. Alphabet’s Heavens’ 2009 breakthrough track Kaxa showcased Johnny Wildey as an urban, soulful producer whose restrained use of the sonic glitch worked wonders against JoD’s scratchy vocal, with a luscious bass groove underpinning the tune’s momentum. Wildey’s trademark glitches integrated into the song – disorienting, syncopated – but in a studied, organic way. Now, with Jay’s Odyssey, has Wilder developed his sound?
Where Jay’s Odyssey falls short is in its over-dependence on the glitch technique to the detriment of other, more noteworthy aspects of his composition. There are some fine moments. Wildey’s beats are often exceptional – on Laaazerrrs, broken snare fills and a compressed bassline combine with distressed vocal samples in a relentless build – the result is utterly compelling. Jo D’s vocals return on Elizabeth which, against eloquent beats, channels the spirit of 90s rave anthems.
Then there are the awkward, undeveloped moments. Devil’s solid bassline propels the track through some icy, sterile textures, but whilst the glitches have a definite function – rhythmically counterpointing an erudite kick-drum rhythm – the overall aesthetic of the tune is disjointed. Sonic dissonance is a mainstay of glitch, but to deconstruct melodies and create discord depends upon a more solid understanding of harmony than Wildey displays here. There are times when the album sounds like a ketamine survivor stabbing at the mute button on The Orb’s Pomme Fritz or Massey-era 808 State stems. On Squuaares though, he gets it right. With an underlying melodic drive strong enough to survive glitch’s disjointed comping, the technique becomes a valid songwriting tool. Where it is overbearing though, is in the clash between vocals and percussion on Woman and the self-indulgent cut-sample-comp-pan-fade confusion of Blue Garden and Walk On. Frank is the track most likely to draw attention. It is, initially, bold and confident songwriting with a solid rhythmic narrative and intriguing textures. Alas, the clever-clever dissonance is wheeled out again mid-way through, to less than glorious effect. Discord within a song is a legitimate atmospheric effect, but needs to display more aplomb than playing single clashing notes in sequence. This would have been the perfect place to really use the disorienting effects of a well-integrated glitch, but the opportunity is missed. Instead we get a poor approximation of Thelonius Monk and yet more rough work with the panning and volume faders.
A few high-points then, amongst a collection which is too spread-out in its moments of quality to really function as the sonic and sensual journey that an album should be. Jay’s Odyssey tries too hard to be part of a movement. Whether that movement is London glitch-hop or LA beats is irrelevant – fans of either scene will appreciate the album for its on-trend immediacy. Wildey’s over-concentration on the quirks and defining traits of his chosen genre is his weakness though, and the textured melodies he uses as the raw materials for his quirky deconstructions are too often weak and derivative.
Jonny Wildey aka Alphabets Heaven of the Kings Deluxe collective, dropped his alluring 11 track debut album, Jay’s Odyssey, earlier this year. The album engirds a dreamful opacity of beatastic measures that can uplift and creep at anytime of the day. ‘Walk On’ runs a consistent waterfall of textures and tones that phase in and out, pulsating and streaming through the speakers and into your earholes. Post-dream, afterglow material. ‘Woman (feat. Alessi’s Ark)’ gives off a bass heavy, funky melody that captures the femininity of the powerfully reverberated voice of, Alessi Ark and maximizes the spatial depth of the wonderfully worked track.
Jay’s Odyssey is the new LP on King Deluxe by Alphabet’s Heaven, a well-articulated record of woozy, farm-on-the-moon hip hop that has both feet set firmly in the Flying Lotus camp of beat-making. What separates Alphabet’s Heaven from the legions of like-minded L.A. beat imitators, however, is an astute attention to detail and an altogether superior production aesthetic that exudes a big, gorgeous sound. While not strikingly original in its adherence to the Cali beat scene, this LP is impeccably crafted and showcases a labor of love through lush melodies, fresh arrangements, and some truly excellent treatment of vocals.
Jay’s Odyssey begins with the stellar “Blue Garden”, a hazy collage of harps and samples that melt into a stomping, filtered bass-driven beat which really makes the listener gasp with its immediacy and transition. This thrilling but abrupt shift from Cosmogramma-esque harmony into a much dirtier Samiyam vibe is spiked with a laid-back island guitar sample that opens up the center to allow sunshine to glisten through; these melodies flow beautifully and never sacrifice themselves for sheer shock value or bassweight.
The lead-in to “Walk On” is expertly accomplished, pushing the female vox cuts into the foreground over a pastoral ‘08 Flylo beat. This and the ensuing track, “Squuaares”, are a bit conventional when compared with the LP opener, but this is forgiven with the fourth installment, “Woman” featuring Alessi’s Ark. The bottom drops out from the previous tracks, some sample-fuckery is afoot, and absoultely luscious vocals come in and just carry the tune away. You can hardly even contemplate the beat beneath it all, as it serves admirably in the service of Alessi’s strong lead voice and bewitching lyrics. It’s all over before you can get settled, which is perfectly fine considering how damn good this track is. Reminescent of Flyo’s work with Laura Darlington, “Woman” is short but oh so, so sweet.
Following this highlight is a 3 track medley of tweets, beats, and effects-laden rhtyhms that certainly get the head nodding, but don’t necessarily stick as well as the first part of the LP. While this section of “Jung”, “Devil”, and “Frank” tend to cause the record to sag in the middle, it is only for the weight of its book-ending songs. What begins with “Woman” transforms into the second half and a new attitude, with the alluring repeating guitar sample of ”Darma”. Switching from beat to backpacker styles effortlessly, Alphabet’s Heaven here drops some deftly twisting melodies and heavily compressed samples under a heaving wobble bass that is deployed without fanfare, just as it should be. This is all before the monster descent two thirds into the track, with fatter-than-Farley bass stabs overwhelm the track and threaten to spill everything over the edge. The flourishes of UK dub and dnb in this composition are spot-on, and help transcend “Darma” past the usual beat scene concept.
This effect of this is enhanced further with “All Night”, a very welcome increase in tempo and pace that sprints along at breaks-neck drum & bass speed. The bassline is lush and provides a very worthy backbone for the drum interplay going on overhead, and with a Flylo flute coming in to break all this aggression up, we are soothed back into the tempo with vibes recalling Zion I’s “Elevation” or early Prefuse 73.
“Laaazerrrs” provides a stepping stone to the LP’s conclusion with some nice sampling and sucking compression, but it is “Elizabeth” that is the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. “I won’t go schizo, will I? It’s a possibility” drops the listener into a celebratory world of organ chords, female exclamations & hums courtesy of Jo D, amongst birds and twinkles to round out a very satisfying conclusion to the album.
All in all, Jay’s Odyssey is a superb record that may lack the necessary distinctiveness and originality in thought to stand as a truly great record, but Alphabet’s Heaven really does a better job than most in realizing his vision of Cali beats in a sublime, pastoral environment that moves fast but always leaves room for relaxing harmonies and interludes. Really looking forward to hearing more in the future and seeing if this growing artist can utilize his sharp production skills to expand his palette and push his sound into new directions.