Badge Époque Ensemble & Lammping Find New Ways to Groove on 'Clouds of Joy: Chance of Reign'

Badge Époque Ensemble & Lammping Find New Ways to Groove on 'Clouds of Joy: Chance of Reign'
It's amazing that Badge Époque Ensemble has only been around for four years. The progressive and mostly instrumental jazz eight piece (and sometimes 13 piece) collective has accomplished so much in that relatively brief window of time —  almost landing a Polaris Prize and carving out a name for themselves as Canada's chill jazz psych group of note — that their impact feels much larger than four years would typically allow. 

They seem able to outdo themselves with each release, and their latest full-length — the thrilling and painterly Clouds of Joy — was yet another step forward. Now, only a month after Clouds of Joy, we have a remix album titled Clouds of Joy: Chance of Reign, crafted alongside fellow Torontonian experimenters Lammping, the group's Mikhail Galkin helming the project and using Clouds of Joy as his only sample source. What was probably a goofy throwaway conversation between friends — what could Clouds of Joy sound like if we gave it a hip hop twist? — becomes a fully realized body of work that combines BÉE'S velour grooves with Lammping's freewheeling energy. 

Having worked in the past with late '90s LA hip hop duo People Under the Stairs, Galkin's latest venture into hip hop production is a seamless experience, featuring guest rap verses from Detroit's Boldy James, Brooklyn's O.C. (a literal OG in the rap game) and Toronto's Theo3 and Roshin that stand as Chance of Reign's arguable highlights. 

The first of those highlights comes with opener "Naturally Conspiring," as Boldy James and Roshin trade off verses about street rep and video games. It's a bit of a mystery when exactly video game references collided with and became so synonymous with jazz hip hop, but the symbiosis makes a whole lot of sense when it's done as well as it is here. Closer "Each Ain't 2 Same" sees O.C. leading with an old school vibe, sonically reminiscent of BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghostface Killah's Sour Soul, arguably one of the band's best projects to date. 

It's a shame there aren't more rap verses sprinkled throughout Chance of Reign, because while the mixing and sampling is pretty sublime song by song, it all tends to blend together and becomes difficult to discern even as you wade through repeat listens. However, the sum is still satisfying, and should provide inspirational fodder for anyone looking to mix things up. And if you're in need of a beat, go ahead and call up Mikhail Galkin.  (Telephone Explosion)