There is something truly immersive about Mansur Brown’s music. Having heard him for the first time playing guitar on Yussef Kamaal’s now legendary album Black Focus, I have been mesmerized by his hypnotic style, his ability to create vast musical soundscapes that emit such a soulful, almost introspective tone. It’s what has made the South London artist such an important one in this new wave of jazz and electronic music coming out of the UK. His 2018 debut Shiroi was an incredible statement, a pulsating, dynamic album that featured some of the most hypnotic and memorable guitar leads and solos I had heard that year. With detailed production throughout, he was able to create such a mystical and mesmeric sound, something that he continued doing on subsequent releases. He has now released his new album, Heiwa, a collection of 10 intricate tracks, sequenced to perfection and creating this moody, often eerie soundscape that perfectly captures the eclectic and diverse energy of the big city.
The opener “My Prayer” kicks this album off with slow, atmospheric synths, vocals and subtle guitar leads that are poignant and super emotive. The basslines here complement the spacious guitar leads and synths that give this track such a hypnotic sound. “Serious” is more upbeat and dynamic, as Mansur Brown’s guitar leads throughout this track seem to be influenced by Middle Eastern melodies, as the rattling beat gives this track energy. The thicker, more bass-heavy “Flight” is incredibly funky, and are central to the groove and sound to this track. The atmospheric synths and effects counter the heavy basslines and Mansur Brown’s impeccable guitar playing. “Fade” is a drill-influenced tune, with heavy 808 drums and percussion throughout. The fact that he handles all instruments and production makes this album all the more impressive. His innovation with sound and textures is just sublime. The broken-beat of “Take Note” is sublime and it’s one of my favourites on the album. The beat, the synths leads and grooves on this track are beautiful, and the contrast between punchy and delicate is flawless throughout the entire album. The title track “Heiwa” is a gorgeous, guitar-led track with a melody that is incredibly hypnotic. The sample of the birds chirping in the background, the textured guitars and percussion make this a raw and pure track. The rumbling beat on “Kerene” is met with gentle guitar leads and synths, that add a reflective tone to the entire track. It’s punchy, inspiring and quite moving. The dynamic beat on “Sweet”is fantastic, and the groove is complemented by colourful guitar arpeggios that add to the atmospheric texture he’s perfected on this album. The heavy basslines and beat on “Want You” are fantastic, as the guitar leads wail throughout, as if they’re crying out and trying to communicate with us. The way he’s able to humanise these instruments is truly breathtaking, and is a quality I really admire about his art. The change in beat on the latter half of that track is also stunning. The ethereal closer “Arrival” is a fitting end to the album, with poignant synths and subtle guitar leads that create this intensity yet utter beauty to close out this album.
Mansur Brown’s artistry is to be celebrated. He’s more than just a guitarist or multi-instrumentalist, he is a storyteller, painting pictures with sound, perfectly combining the frantic and dynamic energy of big city life with an atmospheric, ethereal sound that provides balance. Heiwa is such a beautiful and emotive body of work, a truly poignant album that showcases and celebrates the extent of Mansur Brown’s talents. Go support this album!