Kamasi Washington
Harmony of Difference


3.0
good

Review

by ramon CONTRIBUTOR (32 Reviews)
October 4th, 2017 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: rapturous.

"Stir a buzz". I'm not entirely sure this term has ever had such apt accord as with California's Kamasi Washington. There has been very little doubt surrounding the potential of this saxophonist but it is hard to think anyone was truly prepared for his 2015 release, The Epic. There isn't really an album that comes to mind in recent memory as deserving of such a title, with its gargantuan, sprawling compositions glued together by gorgeously intricate musicianship. Washington is set; so long as he can continue to procure and cultivate appropriate talent to bring flesh to his enviously meticulous ideas, he can and will enjoy a long career riddled with spellbinding performance. Harmony of Difference sees Washington sparing no time making the most of his illustrious cohort. There are some chinks in the armor, but that is to be expected of such a weathered musician as Washington, irrespective of his commercial infancy.

I'm tempted to call Harmony of Difference a glorified demo. The cunning displays of technicality strewn throughout the runtime do little to distract from the uncharacteristically boring songwriting. There was an initial urge to throw down the "focused" bomb but this EP seems to be strictly divided into two parts. There is the Truth segment consisting of opener "Desire" and closer "Truth". Then there is the rest of the EP. The Truth segment utilizes one refrain for the entirety of the 18 minutes these two songs encapsulate. The other four songs take similar approach on a micro scale, pushing one idea to the forefront over the course of three to four minutes and expressing that tonal palette with as much adherence to tact as possible. Chemistry is pivotal. Unfortunately, this causes a bit of a stale tension throughout; "Perspective" builds to a solid groove before riding it for a few minutes into an uncertain grave. There is no dynamic shift bar one surgical yet uninspired sax solo, and the song seems conflicted as to whether or not it wants to end before doing so in an awkwardly abrupt fashion.

This uncomfortable fence-sitting plagues the entirety of this middle segment of the EP. It is well within the realm of enticing; there should be no understating the depth of showmanship and clarity of production. However, it is only within the Truth segment that Washington's grasp on conducting euphoria really blossom. The beautifully artless refrain first introduced in "Desire" at the start of Harmony of Difference is the primary driving force for "Truth". In fact, so much of the success of these two tracks hinges on this melody acting as an earworm that I'm not sure whether to commend Washington's disturbingly mature eye for intricacy or attack his stubborn decision to let such lengthy compositions go without a sonic shift. With only alterations in instrumentation and ever increasing vehemence brewing in the rhythm department acting as signage, there is no real structure to observe. The pieces flow in and out of technical extremity, ghosting beneath veils of subtle movement.

Harmony of Difference leaves me in a bind. A lack of passion paired with an intense proclivity for matching the mood seems to stilt the mid-section of the release, and the only segment of the album to unapologetically force confidence to the spotlight is essentially one track long. It is indisputable that the lowest lows of this release are still well beyond par for the course, and the moments of wonder are nothing short of astonishing. Regardless of how much effort Washington may or may not have put into the fine-tuning, I can’t help but feel he has succeeded where it counts. It isn’t completely overshadowed, but my recollection of the lulls that plague the core are forced aside by the potency of “Desire” and “Truth”. These tracks comprise a moment in Washington’s career to be proud of, and hopefully such exemplar performance proceeds to follow him wherever he goes. When Harmony of Difference dips, it ambles. But where it rises, it is rapturous.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2017


1785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If only this whole EP was as strong as "Truth" because damn that track is nutty. Thanks to sincerelyaural for the proofread!

BlackwaterPork
October 4th 2017


1103 Comments


Great review mate, very nice read

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clavier
October 4th 2017


444 Comments


Very good review brother, but I cannot find the "yes" that is usually at the bottom?

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2017


15749 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is terrific, should be great to listen to during the winter.

Evokaphile
October 4th 2017


5429 Comments


So... this isn't anywhere close to as good as The Epic is it?

Digging: Jarv - Jarvage Vol. 1

brainmelter
October 4th 2017


4423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The song Truth is cool and all but when you realize it sounds just like the theme from the movie Rocky I was never able to unhear it lol

nice rev and perfect score

Digging: No Clear Mind - Mets

Sniff
October 4th 2017


3872 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Review is exactly how i felt. Are you me?

BlushfulHippocrene
October 4th 2017


1916 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What an impressive review. Fantastic work, mate, just when I think you couldn't be more impressive.

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Arcade
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2017


8439 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

is there a nice way of calling this elevator music

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Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
October 4th 2017


19201 Comments


lovely review ramon, one of your best I think. need to check The Epic fast

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
October 5th 2017


1785 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks for the kind words yall.

evok, the best parts of this EP are up there with the best parts of The Epic but the worst parts are remarkably uninteresting.

arcade, I tried to throw in an elevator music-esque descriptor because that is quite literally what the middle of the EP is. Review would have been one para if I did though so xDDDDD

ParanoidAndroid96
October 5th 2017


1390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Truth is one of his best songs of the year tbh. the music video is also very beautiful



good review



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