BADBADNOTGOOD Reconnect with Their Jazz Roots on 'Talk Memory'

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished Oct 4, 2021

Since the release of their debut LP in 2011, BADBADNOTGOOD has always been associated with modern hip-hop culture, releasing Gang Starr covers, working with Post Malone producer Frank Dukes, and collaborating with artists like Mick Jenkins. But somewhere along the way, the band became less known for their rich and rubbery soundscapes and more for their beats and rhythms. On their fifth LP, Talk Memory, BADBADNOTGOOD reconnect with their early jazz-fused influences for an album that shows the trio impressively finding the groove in the most intricate and intensive manner.

Their first release in five years, the Toronto band wholly forgoes raps, rhymes and vocals, rather looking to outside instrumentalists and composers who fit into the band's quest to craft a fully improvised and holistic set. Taking two years off before hitting the studio, BADBADNOTGOOD spent the next two years letting these songs gestate and slowly take shape in the studio — a departure from their typical routing of developing songs through energy-filled jams in front of audiences.

Much of Talk Memory builds like a live set, as the ambient, moody tracks build in tempo and funkiness as the album nears its conclusion. With the departure of founding keyboardist Matthew Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen and saxophonist Leland Whitty each take over the piano and synthesizer throughout the LP. This leaves to a more wandering and less structured sound, as apparent of the adventurous Floating Points-produced nine-minute opener "Signal from the Noise" and the formless jazz floater "Timid, Intimidating."

As the trio have forgone pulling together their dream list of guest vocalists, their choice of instrumental collaborators add to each song in the most enlightened manner. "Unfolding (Momentum 73)" features Laraaji on the electric zither and finds the band twisting their usual boom bap style to something more resembling cosmic jazz to suit the new age legend's playing. But what makes much of the album stand out from the rest of BADBADNOTGOOD's discography is the inclusion of Arthur Verocai. Featured on a third of the album's tracks, the 76-year-old Brazilian composer leads an 11-piece string orchestra to bring a truly cinematic sheen to tracks like the spaghetti western "City of Mirrors".

Pulling in hip-hop instrumentalists Karriem Riggins ("Beside April") and Terrace Martin ("Talk Meaning") help bring each musician involved and each sequence played to a completely new hemisphere. On Talk Memory, BADBADNOTGOOD find likeminded collaborators ready to challenge and compliment them at every turn, resulting in a new evolution for the trio.
(XL Recordings)

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