Thursday 9 December 2021

Bathurst: The Many Faces of David Hanke

There are few artists more prolific than David Hanke.  Under the guise of the Renegades of Jazz, Hanke's intrepid interpretations of classic jazz samples finding themselves receiving new life alongside broken beat, dancefloor-friendly reimaginings has become a signature sound, in turn, solidifying Hanke as a leading name within contemporary funk circles.

But the Renegades of Jazz project was never something that strived to relegate itself into one specific framework and seemed to continually embrace the concept of evolving its own sound.  While "jazz meets broken beat" was in fact the template at the outset with the dancefloor as the destination, subsequent Renegades releases embraced change in exciting new ways: 'Paradise Lost' (agogo Records, 2015) was a decidedly darker record in tone as it explored more personal themes while 'Moyo Wangu' (agogo, 2016) embraced Fela Kuti-styled afrobeat as its primary source of inspiration.

And while the Renegades of Jazz project is one that must see itself evolve... so too must David Hanke himself. 

In a recent review, we delved into the incredible new release by The Motion Orchestra whose debut album, 'All One', sees Hanke take the role of producer for the super group formation which invites Alexander Bednasch, Mark Matthes and Andy Sells into this previously unexplored neo-classical experience.  A genuinely beautiful record which, when held up against the aforementioned Renegades of Jazz releases, completely subverts any expectations that may have been placed upon Hanke's abilities.  Recorded separately in varying locations over the past four years, the album genuinely boasts some exquisite compositions that finds itself as gloriously comfortable within the more stirring pieces as much as they do within the more introspective compositions. 

Evolution for Hanke certainly didn't stop there however - recent years have seen the DJ/producer create a variety of different music under a variety of different names and collectives: the afro-centric nature of Dem Juju Poets, the cumbia-inspired Mankoora project or the electronic tendencies of The Maenads all accentuate the mind-blowing talents that David Hanke brings to the table each time.  

Various record labels over the years have been enriched by the inclusion of David Hanke projects amongst their catalogues - initially signing to Wass Records out of the gate, agogo Records were fortunate enough to provide the basis for the initial Renegades of Jazz releases while Matasuna Records staked their claim to another Hanke alter-ego in Dem Juju Poets.  The formation of Bathurst in 2018 however would see Hanke take steps to remain in complete control of his creative outlets and namesakes providing a one-stop shop for projects going forward.

And while Bathurst currently rides high from The Motion Orchestra's 'All One' release, there is also the release of Keno's 'Out Past The Current' that warrants your attention.  Another of Hanke's incomparable guises, Keno's affections for downtempo, electronic-styled compositions spawn some beautiful releases with many of the remixes unveiled over the last four years thoughtfully collated for this release.  Presented alongside new and previously unreleased tracks, it's incredible to think of the songs on 'Out Past The Current' as being separated by as much as four years as there's such a synergy across the pieces here, it's as thought they were created with each other in mind.  Should any of the remixes have been previously unheard, then reimaginings of Asta Hiroki's 'Her Image In Focus' and Noetics' 'Vibrant Hydrant' will serve as real delights.

Despite the growing array of side projects, it's clear that Renegades of Jazz as a concept is still a driving force for Hanke.  With the promise of a new Renegades album due in 2022, the brilliant standalone singles 'West Coastin' released with 'You're in LA Today, But That's Okay' once again reinvent the Renegades rulebook.  While 'West Coastin' is presented with the energy of enthusiastically embracing the possibilities of a new day, 'You're in LA Today...' (which features bass from The Motion Orchestra's Alexander Bednasch) serves as the quaint post-summer lament. 

The Bandcamp page for Bathurst surmises the mission statement as "the future sound of yesterdays magic".  While always paying respects to the past, the "future" is the key word here as Bathurst boldly forges ahead in its own path persevering with its commitment to delivering great music. 

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