Blue-in-Green:RADIO

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

'Inner Journey' by As Valet


'Inner Journey' is the new album from the incredibly versatile producer, As Valet, finding its home on the French label, A Night on Canopy.

Marking his third solo project, Cris "As Valet" Davidas delves even further into the themes explored by his previous outings - 'Primitive' (2010) and that album's follow-up 'A.K.W.A.' (2016) - with 'Inner Journey' serving as something of a spiritual reconnection to Davidas's roots in the Caribbean island of La Martinique.  As in most great stories, the spoils aren't always found in the destination but in the journey itself.  And the deeply personal journey being recounted over the course of this album's fifteen tracks is in fact an absolute joy.

Although excelling in his own lane, many will remember As Valet as one part of the innovative Parisian future soul quartet Electric Conversation from the UK's visionary future soul label, Futuristica Music.  A tightly-knit unit that paired As Valet with group members Oz, LaNote and Gus La Temp, the collective released two fantastic projects in 'Communication' in 2007 and 'Electric Conversation' in 2013 which unveiled an exciting soul-infused blend of electronica.  Not only delivering two standout projects for Futuristica's awesome catalogue of music, the unique musical aesthetic proved an exciting springboard for As Valet to develop his own sound throughout the years that passed.

According to As Valet's own words detailed on his Bandcamp page, the Paris-based artist describes his approach to composition and himself as an "abstract-instrumental-space-hip hop beat producer".  It's a bold description but one that encapsulates Davidas's talents and ambition perfectly as exemplified throughout the music on 'Inner Journey'.  At times melancholy, at times introspective, and at times heartwarming... the exuberant production is bolstered through a great mish-mash of styles and a clever use of samples making songs like 'All On You', 'Aquarius' and 'Mains Noires' blissful highlights.  Currently riding high from the release of the stunning 'See in the Dark', the unrivalled talents of vocalist Deborah Jordan guests on the album, breathing incredible life into 'Mystic Beauty', and there's another welcome featured guest, this time in the form of Electric Conversation vocalist, LaNote, who appears on the album's closing numbers, 'With You' and 'Fresh Air'.

A very quick special mention is warranted for the exciting left-field releases of hip-hop label, A Night on Canopy.  With some genuinely exciting releases by Dre Trav - look out 'Omnipresent' two-track release - along with the the sixteen-minute, improvisation of 'Innervisions (Holy Smoke)' by Michael Vigneron and Feather Phaser.

For now though, the spotlight shines brightly on As Valet and his 'Inner Journey' album, and thankfully it's a journey we're all invited on.

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