Well, I may have found my favourite soulful and jazzy albums to come out this year. Athletic Progressions are a Aarhus, Denmark-based group consisting of Jonas Cook on keys, Jonathan J. Ludvigsen on drums and Justo Gambula on bass. cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air is their brand new album, a 16-track journey into their melodic, rhythmic, energetic world of intense drumming, soulful keys and thumping drums. Oh man, and I stayed away from singles just so I can experience them for the first time and they didn’t disappoint.
After the brief seven-second opener “Bella Sky”, the album switches into motion with the “JUNGELEN“, with bass-heavy and intense drumming that give way to this angelic key-driven melody that perfectly captures the grandiosity and intensity of their music. Those keys grow and grow, bursting with life and energy, with a balance of sensual, more emotive and more hard-hitting and in your face. It’s like this throughout the album. “OSAKA” is another example, one of my absolute favourites off the project. Hectic drums, a hypnotic rhythm that brings so much colour to the track – a delicate touch to an otherwise entrancing groove. The drum breakdowns and tone switches are just phenomenal, and there is something so relatable to their sound, just in terms of how it’s able to set me in a particular mood. Brother Portrait captures this claustrophobic yet free-spirited tone with a stellar verse on “Extended Technique“, and behind that voice this drum-led, cosmic beat that is menacing and almost devilish, an epic track that is another stand out for me. The Flying Lotus-inspired (and I’m thinking his 2008 masterpiece Los Angeles) “DEBRA” is another special moment on the album, with dynamic and intricate drums, percussion and this synth-led sound that is just so dynamic and hard-hitting. The energy is relentless, even after slight changes in tempos. Cooked Ones, Pt. II is another track à la Fly Lo, with frantic drumming and chimes complementing the groove-heavy drive of the basslines throughout. It’s a truly inspiring track, there’s something utterly mesmeric about the way they are able to translate the same kinda energy in between tracks, different grooves, same kinda mood. It’s what makes it such an easy listen. As long as you’re in some mood for some crazy funk and soul music, lock yourself into this album and you’ll have an absolute blast.
There’s so much I haven’t mentioned yet. Whether it’s the crazy drum and piano-led energy of “MOUSSAS FINEST“, or the synth-funk futuristic and lush piano-led closer “THE EXAM“, this album is full of dynamic, eclectic and incredibly inspiring moments, capturing the frantic, inviting energy of their awe-inspiring music. Athletic Progressions’ new album cloud high in dreams, but heavy in the air is a stellar body of work that captures their talents so beautifully on a sonic canvas full of heart and soul. Jonas, Jonathan and Justo , you should be really proud of yourselves for this incredibly lush and textured album. To more incredible creativity. Oh and shoutout to the Touching Bass fam, love you all. Go listen and support!