The son of a well-known bass player, Auckland-based multi-instrumentalist, DJ and visual artist Julien Dyne has spent the last decade amassing an expansive backcatalogue of solo work on labels including BBE alongside his ongoing role in the band Cloud Michaels and collaborative work with the likes of Theo Parrish, Steve Spacek and Andreya Triana.
This fourth album ‘Teal’ represents Dyne’s first solo longplayer in five years as well as his debut on Soundway, and see him enlisting a roster of collaborators including longtime bandmate Ladi 6, Mara TK, Fat Freddy’s Drop trumpeter Toby Laing and Australian vocalist Tim Guy (the majority of whom apparently contributed their parts via internet).
For the most part the eleven tracks collected here adhere closely to broken-beat house structures, with Afro-centric percussion and soul / funk influences evident throughout. What’s particularly striking though is the overall looseness of these tracks, and indeed there’s often a jazz-imbued sense of rawness and drift here as synthetic and instrumental elements move alongside and against each other, whilst never quite feeling ‘off-centre’ enough to disrupt the overriding sense of groove.
Opening track ‘Design’ enters with a flurry of jangling piano keys and delay-treated vocal samples as clattering percussion fills lock into place against hissing hi-hats and thumping 4/4 kickdrums, the fusion of live bass grooves and horns that follows calling to mind the likes of Kaidi Tatham as twinkling keys loom against zapping digital effects. ‘YouYou’ meanwhile takes things off on a streamlined glide through vamping disco flourishes and waspy electro synths, the thick bass runs that power beneath intersecting with stacked handclaps, sampled yells and gauzily shimmering electronic flashes.
In contrast, ‘P.F. Mogul’ sees Tim Guy’s vocals being looped into ghostly echoes of themselves alongside spiralling Italo arpeggios and curiously New Wave pop-tinged synths, the rattling percussion dropping into a latin breakdown as the vocal samples cycle like sirens. Elsewhere, title track ‘Teal’ injects more hiphop swagger into the mix, as slow clattering drum beaks lurch against snake-like funk clavinet solos and fat bass grooves, the percussion tightening up into batucada-flavoured rolls as phased trumpet flourishes flash into the foreground. In a similar vein to obvious peers such as Recloose, Moodymann and Theo Parrish, there’s plenty of food for the feet on this impressive album, but it’s arguably best enjoyed as a headphone trip, where the constantly shifting layers are given a proper chance to work their magic.