Paris born, New England-Raised and long time Chicago-residing Makaya McCraven comes through with an incredible double LP titled Universal Beings. Having already worked on one of my favourite releases this year in Where We Come From (CHICAGOxLONDON Mixtape), it goes without saying that I was really looking forward to his new album. It really does not disappoint.
An immense project spanning 22 tracks and broken down into 4 different sections, Makaya is able to experiment beautifully with different sounds and melodies. The album is split between recording locations. Tracks 1-6 were recorded in New York City, tracks 7-11 were recorded in Chicago, tracks 12-16 were recorded in London (at the Total Refreshment Centre) and tracks 17-22 were recorded in Los Angeles. Each part has a unique characteristic and vibe, which can be felt clearly as you listen through. Not being biased or anything (maybe a little), but the London recordings are easily my favourite. You could really hear the heartbeat of the city throughout the tracks, especially on tracks like “Voila” with Daniel Casimir and “The Newbies Lift Off” with Ashley Henry. Both of them feature some incredible drumming that is accompanied by gorgeous keys and synths that add depth and soul to the tracks, something that just sounds like London. It’s difficult to explain in words but easier with vibrations. Of course all the other parts of the album are amazing, with some excellent, spiritual and experimental compositions on each section.
It is truly an outstanding album from one of the best musicians working today. I highly recommend you check out this project, and make sure you go back and listen to that ChicagoxLondon project because it is amongst my absolute favourites this year. You can listen to Universal Beings below via Bandcamp, and make sure you support the music in any way you can! Released on International Anthem.