KOFI FLEXXX — Flowers In The Dark (review)

KOFI FLEXXX — Flowers In The Dark album cover Album · 2023 · Eclectic Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
snobb
Kofi Flexxx is not a person, it's a new project of British artist Shabaka Hutchings, renown by his previous successful bands, The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka & the Ancestors and Sons Of Kemet. Here on Flexxx... Shabaka acts as a producer, collecting a strong team of co-patriots, pianist Alexander Hawkins (of the Convergence Quartet and Decoy) and three young females - drummer Jas Kayser, bassist Daisy George, plus flutist Ross Harris (of today's on-the top jazz hip-hop band Speakers Corner Quartet). The line-up is supported by six guests - singers/rappers.

All of Shabaka's previous music was eclectic, but this new work goes even further, almost each song is stylistically different. Repetitive African rhythms and minimalist tunes flying over them are two things uniting the album's music (and providing that specific for all of Shabaka's usual sound aesthetics).

The opener, "Apothecary", has a dark, almost industrial atmosphere and contains Nuyorican rapper Billy Woods (in fact, this would fit perfectly on one of Woods own albums). Side B of the three-sided vinyl album contains very similar songs as well - another Nuyorican rapper, Elucid's dark psychedelic liquid "Show Me ". Londoner Confucius MC is presented on the title track - a bit lighter mix of Afrocentric rhythms and progressive hip-hop. The fourth album's composition with lyrics "By Now (Accused of Magic)" is already usual for Shabaka's collaborations with Trinidadian/Londoner poet and artist Anthony Joseph, some similar Caribbean-influenced collaborative songs can be found on both Hutchings and Joseph previous solo albums. "Aim", the album's longest composition, contains South African vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu (already known from his participation in another Shabaka project - Shabaka And The Ancestors).

The album's first instrumental piece - "It Was All a Dream" - is a bitter-sweet Caribbean percussive tune with plenty of piano and flute jazzy improves. B-side closer, lengthy, "Babylon Dun Topple", is a true free jazz composition, dissonant, with lots of all instruments improvising, framed with considerable African percussion.

C-side percussive opener, "Increase Awareness", sounds softer and brighter, with repetitive Indian ragas touch. Set's closer, "Fire", is a traditional spiritual jazz piece.

Shabaka Hutchings has issued a statement elaborating on his decision to stop playing saxophone from the end of this year. He's planning to concentrate on producing and other instruments. Kofi Flexxx is an obvious step from Shabaka's past towards his upcoming plans - a bit too eclectic and heterogeneous, but with some interesting ideas which possibly will be developed by him in a nearest future.
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