Soul Session – two
(Agogo Records AG081 CD, LP and download. Review by Mark McKergow)
The second CD from Soul Session brings together a well-curated selection of vocalists with some cracking soul and jazz-flavoured sounds.
Soul Session is the creation of Munich-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Hans Kiefer. Following his debut album in this guise in 2011 (cunningly entitled one), he is back with more grooving jazz, funk, soul and world music sounds. As before the production is superb, with every track hitting the spot. For this second album, Kiefer has chosen to move towards themes based on love and spiritual awareness – though this is more a background feature for much of the album.
Kiefer has invited a great range of vocal talent to join him on this journey. The opening track Quantraversa features LA star singer Georgia Anne Muldrow, a lady with some serious jazz and hip-hop chops herself, to add some choice stylings over his bass-heavy, grooving instrumentation. The way Muldrow slides around with the time over the beats is quite startling – very reminiscent of hip hop legend J Dilla’s love of off-pulse rhythms. Later in the album we are treated to an appearance by UK acid jazzer Omar, who pours his rich tones over some world-beat rhythms and old-school synth lead lines on Wish The Beat To Never Stop.
The meat of the collection is a pair of three-part suites. The instrumental Kalimba suite starts with – what else – the sound of a Kalimba, a kind of African-inspired thumb piano. This is quickly joined by a rhythm section with a touch of A Love Supreme before heading for grooving solo territory. The second track, Steely Dan, rather gives away its inspiration, picking up the vibes with sharp bass guitar and rich electric piano chords. The final section, Transformation, rolls the rhythm along further for a pulsing climax of keyboards.
The other suite, Liberation, strongly features the vocals of German female vocalist Anaj who brings some stylish voice contributions. Got To Go Where To Go sees a blissed-out funkiness, which moves into the irresistible samba beat of Samba De Alfama (my standout track from the whole collection, also featuring some nice Rhodes soloing from Kiefer). The final Liberation is a bit corny, but keeps things moving and will do well on the dance floors of sophisticated clubs across Europe.
The most intriguing track is You Are Everything, featuring vocal samples not from soul divas or rappers but instead from Indian mystic and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Kiefer sets up a piano and flute-led rolling figure over which we hear historic recordings of Krishnamurti urging us to give our hearts and minds to living differently. It works pretty well, and certainly adds substance to claims that this album is pointing us in the direction of love.
Taken overall this is a very well-produced and interesting collection with a great variety of sounds and plenty of different styles on offer. The way in which Kiefer makes it into a coherent whole is therefore even more impressive.
Check out the music on the Agogo Records website (link below) and see which of the moods grabs you.
LINK: The album on the Agogo Records website