Review Summary: An album, rife with the joys and life and love, floats beautifully with the rhythm and flow of free form jazz and hip-hop.
Picture the perfect summer day--your perfect summer day. The sun, it’s shinning, not beating down nor glaring in a miserable fashion, but shinning
. The breeze is absolutely the way it should be, gentle, but enough to take the temperature down a couple of notches. It’s mid-evening, the cicadas are screeching, and school, work, and whatever other responsibilities seem so far away, so meaningless and minuscule. Whether it be with friends, family, or just your lonesome, this day is frighteningly perfect, so rapturously enjoyable, that not day before or after can stack up. With “81summer,” this is how A Son Of The Sun
opens up, and it just stays golden from there.
That perfect summer day, a smoky lonesome pub, a water logged, dimly lit street, all these places can be found on Uyama Hiroto’s debut. The beauty lies in the moods it exudes, the moods that transport the listener, and ultimately, the moods you like to feel, the ones you so desperately strive for. You see, A Son Of The Sun
, cool, calm, and collected--a feel good type of record. It takes its time and has its purpose, an album blissfully self-aware.
It has the rhythm and flow of free form poetry, yet speaks very little. It’s a hip-hop record at its core, but like a handful of his Japanese contemporaries, Hiroto utilizes the smooth, fresh nature of jazz. Think the late Nujabes, with less emphasis on the “emcee” aspect, and more on the instrumentation and fusion of sounds. There’s typically so much going on, but it’s so masterfully structured, that it seems like he merely happened upon these
beats and. these
rhythms. A piano glissando here, and a saxophone solo there--it all feels so painfully natural.
The songs are structured in a way that it feels like a sunset. “81summer” and “Climbed Mountain” open up with more liveliness than present on the rest of the album, while each subsequent track takes this down a notch.. Added to that, nearly every song has a specific flavor. Whether it be a dash of tranquility, or a spoonful of sexy, there’s something special that makes many of the tracks standout. The beautifully place saxophone scream is such an example. It’s that little wail that sets the tone for the entire piece. It’s hectic but beautiful, especially when the subdued chanting and multifarious beats are coming from all sides. “One Dream,” a highlight of the album, has some rather incredible vocals. They’re quaint, but capture the light, loving mood perfectly. It borderlines “cheese“, but ultimately proves itself to be one of the more passionate pieces. The track “Waltz For Life Will Born,” as the name suggests, is a waltz, and there really isn’t much like it anywhere on the record. “Vision Eyes (Featuring Golden Boy)” comes around next, and is one of only two tracks to really feature a prominent vocalist. While Golden Boy isn’t mind-blowing, his unique, very streamlined performance really gives the track a certain personality, especially when taking into consideration the very well written lyrics.
Yet not every track keeps the same, beautiful energy and poise that the majority of the album does. A few songs thrown in the mix are simply forgettable, either by having the misfortune of being sandwiched by two superior songs, or just being weak in general. “Nightwood” is one such piece. It’s nice
, but completely uninspired. Parts feel like background music from a videogame, with some added pieces of flair (chimes, vocals, etc.) to give a more “fleshed-out” feeling. The interludes, while placed strategically to break up the album, don’t really do their job. The sound somewhat similar to the pieces at hand, and as nice as they may be, they feel more like added fluff--filler, essentially--rather than a necessary segue into the next part of the album.
There’s some much here; the little nuances and minute details that need to be heard to be appreciated. Whether it be the sultry trumpet in “Carbon Rose,” the delicious ambiance in “Stratus,” or the pitch-perfect piano outro of “Color of Jade,” A Son Of The Sun
proves itself to be a beautiful, multifaceted, wholly immiscible album. It may not set the world on fire, and hell, if the chilled, lackadaisical jazz-fusion stylings are any indicator, it really doesn’t even care to.