Since 2015 Ash Walker, the London-based multi-instrumentalist, has released music that he refers to as “adventures on land”. This ardent collector of jazz, blues, soul, funk, reggae, and all things in-between has put in work behind the 1ʻs and 2ʻs far and wide, spinning records in the UK with The Specials to scattering dub across San Francisco and LA.
Aquamarine, his most recent collection of grand soundscapes, designed for the traveling without moving temperament, sees this UK artist put together a Trip-Hop meets R&B union that will keenly charm Dub and Radiohead fans alike. His self-described production outline is one that’s heavily informed by old King Tubby records. Filling out the mix with surface noise of fuzz, hiss, and crackle, it’s a balance that uses a model placement of frequencies. According to Walker “this one feels more like a deep-sea voyage into the subconscious. Living to dream with visions of grandeur.” Three songs in, that proclamation becomes truth. On the tough, expansive 70ʻs resonating CTI funk-jazz directive “Come With Us”, Walker gives brief subdued chatterbox coördinates to travelers on this vessel, while Yazz Ahmed-the in-demand trumpet and flugelhorn musician who has worked with Nile Rodgers, Lee Scratch Perry, and Radiohead-plays woozy designs on top of this pressurized mood. Jonathan Shorten, whoʻs produced Boy George, Brandy and S Club 7, worked alongside Walker in his home studio on this project, orchestrates the unrushed, handcrafted feel.
North London singer, Laville, the vocal center of the project, exudes a Maxwell-Esque presence. Every note he pushes, immediately, flips the tone of the record back to R&B groove with Neo-Soul inflections. The calm, slow-moving pressure on “Finishing Touch”, overflowing with subdued keyboard chord changes and throwback 90ʻs vibes, could be added to a DJ set by either Ben Watt, from his famed Lazy Dog parties in the early aught, or a Sweaterfunk DJ set from that iconic San Francisco party circa 2010.
Walker, with his audio spaceship, created in the hiss and pops of many vinyl albums, has put together a signature grouping of analog and digital oscillations that resembles NOTHING from this era.
Listen to Ash Walker’s new album Aquamarine below via Bandcamp and don’t forget to support! Released via Night Time Stories.