thu 19/07/2018

CD: Renegades of Jazz – Paradise Lost | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Renegades of Jazz – Paradise Lost

CD: Renegades of Jazz – Paradise Lost

Curious, ambitious blend of breakbeats and distorted brass proves compelling

17th-century theology retold as hip-hop?

Renegades of Jazz is the alter ego of German DJ David Hanke, whose blending of breakbeats, a distorted big band, rap vocals and electronica to create something billed to bring jazz back to the dancefloor would already be an unusual combination even before the addition of John Milton’s biblical epic Paradise Lost. The result is a brooding and initially rather puzzling release that after several listens reveals itself as addictive and original.

The Miltonic connection seems at first to be interpreted very loosely, as a general theme, rather than specific set of references, some of which, such as “Imperial breed” or “Cannibal Royal” are pretty vague. On second and third hearing, however, the potency and tight focus of the concept becomes clearer. Most of the songs feature guest lyricists, and some of these lyrics, while musically similar, have quite specifically biblical echoes. “Death Grip ft Chima Anya”, a deranged, repeated chant over breakbeats and distorted brass accents, for example, says: “In the midst of things / On the road to riches and diamond rings / You think there’s the might of kings / but what lies within is just vile and sin.” The hypnotic form meets orthodox theology, all expressed in impeccable hip-hop. Equally powerful is the wordless title track “Paradise Lost”: its careering, offbeat brass notes and skittish rhythm over yelping strings are a brilliant three-minute hymn to crazy, self-destructive power.

The “jazz to the dancefloor” label is immediately reminiscent of Gilles Peterson in UK, while the blending of jazz and hip-hop is well known from acts like Robert Glasper. This is more left-field and burns more slowly than most of what they do, however, and it’s likely to prove a niche release. It’s not jazz, and it would be difficult to dance to most of it. But as a set of beguilingly moody tunes to come down to as the sun is coming up, it’s hard to beat.

The hypnotic form meets orthodox theology, all expressed in impeccable hip-hop

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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