Friday 19 January 2024

'In Transit' by The Night Service Commute

"Hip Hop & Jazz flavours a plenty" serves as the tagline for this release by Netherlands-based producer, beatmaker and DJ, Tommy Willetts, who has in fact stumbled onto a sensational middle ground where jazz compositions intertwine themselves with hip-hop sensibilities to create a genuinely enthralling and imaginative release.

Herbie Hancock's forward-thinking vision on his music taught listeners and musicians that jazz fusion could usher in a broader perspective of the genre and that it can thrive under a variety of unexpected influences.  And while hip-hop was singled out as a strong influence for 'In Transit', in truth, the album boasts exciting input from a vast array of musical styles and inspirations.

Willetts' nine-track treasure finds its home on the UK's Certain Sound Records - a comparatively young label established to celebrate emerging hip-hop talent as with past releases 'Certain Sounds EP' by beat maker Luther Andross and the all-star cast assembled for 'Anyone Home?' by Montener The Menace.

Under the guise of the illusive Night Service Commute, Willetts' 'In Transit' indulges in the idea that the city has its own beating heart and this album seeks to position itself as the sublime night-time soliloquy within that fantasy. Its soundtrack is the pulse that accompanies those darkest moments before the dawn and whether that's a soundtrack that resonates with those desperately trying to keep their eyes open after a late stint burning the midnight oil, the lightly intoxicated revellers still basking in the glow of their night out, those in the joys of new love or those lamenting love lost... 'In Transit' is your audio guide to the warmth and solace of finding home.

With tracks that capture a brilliant cross-section of stories and experiences - as if posing as commuters themselves interacting on a busy underground - the frenzied title track 'In Traffic', the vibrant 'My Mind' and the enigmatic 'Lost' all serve as leading highlights within the tightly-woven tapestry of noir jazz mixed within a soul-infused hip-hop aesthetic.

As you pull your collar up to repel the bitter cold and glance at your watch mentally counting down the hour until you find yourself snugly tucked up in bed, 'In Transit' serves as more than the accompaniment until you reach home, it is a piece of magic that comes with the realisation that sometimes home can actually be the journey itself.

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