Friday 26 August 2022

'II' by Magro

In a swift - and incredibly welcome - follow-up to last year's 'Trippin' album, drummer and producer Magro unveils his new album release, 'II'.

As a debut project, 'Trippin' already had a lot of promise to live up to for the Berlin-based artist.  With a series of standalone single releases dating back to 2019 and the first of two Beat Tape projects available through his Bandcamp page, Magro's full-length was starting to seem long overdue; thankfully though, the versatile artist's perception of contemporary jazz meets hip-hop meets neo-soul fused exquisitely into a bold and inspired project that far exceeded expectations.

And the time since the album's release has led to some great opportunities and further successes including a healthy amount of touring this summer gracing stages at Skandaløs Festival and Festival de Jazz St Moritz.  And then of course there was production for Leona Berlin's sophomore album from last year, 'Change' - another incredible project from the R&B vocalist which was exemplary of, both, her talents as an immensely creative and continually evolving artist as well as being exemplary of the incredible chemistry she continually exudes alongside partner Magro evident through their numerous collaborations.

As an album, 'Trippin' absolutely introduced more far-reaching concepts into Magro's music than he had ever previously explored.  Through darker, broader and more experimental sonic landscapes, Magro carved a path out all of his own and the groundwork established through 'Trippin' is masterfully developed upon through its successor, 'II'.

While absolutely continuing many of the themes established through 'Trippin', the sophomore effort steers the music into new directions, drawing upon fresh inspirations.  Just analysing the album's opening three tracks is enough to demonstrate the progressive and all-encompassing scope that 'II' is striving to achieve: the cosmic and ethereal 'Fly Thru' kicks the project off before segueing to the disco-tinged, neo-soul gem, 'Never Let You Down' (featuring Leona Berlin), and then to the off-kilter hip-hop number 'Stagelife' (featuring TwizzMatic).  It's become the type of unpredictable nature that Magro's music has started to thrive off of - this article has cited terms like "hip-hop", "neo-soul" and "jazz" but the terms are irrelevant here and perhaps only serve to restrict the music's overall intentions of being free to simply be what it wants to be.

BIGYUKI, the New York-based Japanese pianist, features on one of the album's standout moments with the explosive collaboration, 'Flow', which also serves as the album's second single.  BIGYUKI, himself no stranger to far-reaching and experimental jazz-inspired compositions, soars over the sonic playground that 'Flow' presents.  R&B vocalist, Kenny Wesley, guests on 'Teacher' which acts as a nice call-back to their past collaboration for Magro's single, 'Jupiter' (2020).

Rarely short on inspiration, Magro unveils another phenomenal offering in his ever-burgeoning catalogue.  Progressive, beaming with creativity and forging his own path, 'II' absolutely warrants your attention.

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