On the 24th of April, following the release of a number of singles and uploads of live performances, Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes finally released their first collaborative album in full. The album, titled What Kinda Music, is full of surprises: featuring backing vocals from Jordan Rakei, verses from Freddie Gibbs and bass from Rocco Palladino, the project was described by Misch himself as ‘kind of just an experiment’ (What Kinda Music Documentary, dir. Joshua Osbourne). It is a project born through a mutual admiration, as well as shared roots: both from the same area of South East London, Misch actually watched Dayes play the drums in a school talent show as a child, and when the pair later met at the launch party for Misch’s debut album ‘Geography’, the tentative desire for collaboration became a reality.
With a background in jazz-pop, Tom Misch’s soulful croon and experimental electronica fuses with the masterful and innovative percussion of expert drummer Yussef Dayes and catalyzes to form ‘What Kinda Music’; an album aptly titled as the pair find exciting ways to disrupt generic fusions and expectations with their collaboration. With the majority of the tracks on the album born through off the cuff, free-style jam sessions between the pair, the result is unmistakably organic and the sound is raw. Coupled with exquisite production, the effect is captivating.
Above: What Kinda Music Documentary
The titular track ‘What Kinda Music’, released 2 months prior to the full album, is certainly a stand out. Accompanied by a surrealistic and engaging music video shot in Kyiv using 35mm film, the track is a treat for the senses which utilises a consistent 80s synthesizer along with enrapturing drum beats and violin to create a song that is equal parts eerie and spell-binding. ‘Lift Off’ also bears mentioning for it’s expressive instrumentalism and build: the free-form joy of this track is infectious, and really encapsulates the remove of structure that makes this album so unique and free from stagnancy. Down to the applause and cheers at the finale of the fully improvised ‘Kyiv’, this is an album that allows you to bear witness to each and every moment of its conception.
Some critics have been quick to suggest that this is an album of self-indulgence for the two artists, and one that may struggle to be memorable. Perhaps this is because no one track on the album truly steals the show: instead, the project is best enjoyed as a coherent whole. And while I grant that the album is somewhat devoid of lyrical complexity and is perhaps a departure from expectation, for many it will be a departure that is receptively welcomed. It is the prerogative of an artist to explore new avenues: in fact, it is essential. This is often where the best discoveries are made, and ‘What Kinda Music’ is certainly evidence of this.