Monday 1 April 2024

'Infinite Reflections' by Uniri

The artists' Bandcamp description for the latest Astigmatic Records signing, Uniri, touches upon an interesting note when considering the release of the quartet's debut 'Infinite Reflections'...

The notion that within today's contemporary jazz climate, artists and musicians have a significantly deeper well to draw from when considering their own musical make-up.  Hip-hop icons like Jay Dee, Madlib and Questlove who created jazz-infused compositions dating their work back to mid-late-90s, ultimately became the inspirations to entirely new generations of artists, listeners and fans more than twenty years later.  

Over the years, we've mused countless times about the continued attraction and ongoing dynamicism of London's jazz portfolio.  While UK jazz - and in fact artists around the world - continue to pay homage to architects of the genre like John Coltrane, Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders, an abundance of global luminaries like the aforementioned hip-hop icons along with increasingly versatile artists including DāM-FunK, Flying Lotus, Kaidi Tatham and Moodymann all add their own value to the ever-evolving glorious gumbo that constitutes jazz in the 21st century.

With names like Nubya Garcia and Blue Lab Beats reaching incredible heights of fame both here and overseas, it consistently proves to be an inspiring tale that thankfully wasn't consigned to just a short-lived fad.  With new names within London continually springing up, we - as listeners and fans - owe much to labels like Astigmatic who have continued to champion exciting and accomplished UK names like the Levitation Orchestra, Cykada, and of course, Uniri.  

Spearheaded by drummer Tim "Chiminyo" Doyle, Uniri is comprised of a veritable super group of names including keyboardists Amané Suganami and Al MacSween along with bassist Luke Wynter.  And "super group" is no over statement - between these four names their talents have provided some of London's peak jazz success stories over the last five years or so with a collective roll call of ensembles including Maisha, Golden Mean, Flock, London Odense Ensemble, Cykada and Nubiyan Twist.  A staggering line-up that runs the gamut of contemporary jazz from the spiritual aesthetic of Maisha to the high-energy electronic-infused Cykada.

Uniri's 'Infinite Reflections' seeks to carve its own lane amidst the already dynamic list of projects attributed to the players' résumés.  As an album that openly leans that little closer towards those golden era hip-hop influences, the eleven-track release shifts brilliantly through pace and styles with the group's penchant for electronica notably evident on songs like 'Oneiric Voyage' and 'Oumuamua', then there's synth-heavy psychedelia for 'Astra's Change' and 'Celestial Waves'.

With Tim Doyle serving as the band leader for Uniri, there are some parralels between 'Infinite Reflections' and his other Astigmatic project, Cykada, namely their self-titled debut release that found itself revelling within these like-minded unpredictable sonic soundscapes in the same way.  Far from a rehashing of ideas however, Uniri is very much within its own lane gleefully telling its own narrative of the inspirations that came before it and the untravelled road that lays ahead of it.

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