HEAVEN AND EARTH
Social media may be a nullifying staple of our culture for many users. Although, one of the greatest aspects of the staple, however, is the exacerbation of musical exposure, which includes the catalog of 2018. So much music has been released this year on the multitude of platforms, reaching their arms towards the appropriate cult’s touch.
What 2018 offered that the previous years may not have offered to a certain degree is the selection of underground and up-and-coming artists having their work selected as one of the best albums of the year. For 2017, the likes of the underdogs were overshadowed by the likes of DAMN by Kendrick Lamar, Ctrl by SZA, and Flower Boy by Tyler, The Creator.
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Although masterful works, there isn’t much apparent overshadowing to be procured for this year. 2018 saw the initial releases of artists as ambitious portrayals of their creative hand, and well worthy of commercial exposure. A few opulent pieces from this year included, from personal opinion, Kali Uchis’ Isolation, The Internet’s Hive Mind, Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, Blood Orange’s Negro Swan, and Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard. These albums were constructed as grand extensions of their artistic persona.
Through Some Rap Songs witnessed Earl’s growth in his personal spiritual and musical enclaves. Through Negro Swan comes poignant displays of secular comprehension through the eyes of a discombobulated black man. When deciphering whatever musical points or approaches should reign superior over the other is solely based on personal experience.
For me personally, an album that acts as a musical voyage, dedicating nearly three hours of pure passion renders itself the regal shrine of 2018. That album for me was Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth.
Heaven and Earth is the second full-lengthed album from Washington after 2015’s The Epic. Heaven and Earth follows a similar story structure as The Epic. All through the arrangement of brass, percussion, keyboards, and vocal demonstrations, Heaven and Earth is an odyssey through the spiritual lens of the most humane sense of emotion. The Epic was a boisterous odyssey through the complicated range of human emotions, narrated through the voice of sound.
No other album throughout this year managed to hit all the sweet spots. Throughout the sixteen compositions, Heaven and Earth displayed such capability through Washington’s masterful saxophone play, as well the orchestral direction he led under his finger. The amalgam of instrumentation that makes up the total Jazz family keenly allows the independent members to radiate their own prowess in these compositions.
The second composition, Can You Hear Him, has fiery chords that are unheard of throughout the rest of the journey, but hold its stance for the first half of the composition. These chords tither and tatter from left to right over the polyphonic arrangement of percussion and piano chords, ensconcing itself the main focus of the segment, of course besides Washington’s saxophone onslaught in the second half.
As Can You Hear Him was an explosive demonstration of Washington’s methodology, the composition entitled Testify, which features an incandescent libretto from Patrice Quinn, is a sweet and melodic oasis from the arduous journey, but still plays a part in the narrative. Quinn’s voice itself is intuitively reassuring. Supported by the inspirited composition of pelting percussion, Washington’s signature saxophone, and the whirling chords, the composition halts the journey and uplifts the spirit.
Photo by Brittany No Fomo
That is essentially the source of the album itself. It elevates the humanity of its listener without any ostentatious display of flattery or gleans. It reaches the inner threshold of the heart that not many albums from this year were able to penetrate. Although there were many pieces of work released this year that deserve the recognition, this deserves the critical praise it garners.
I hope to see more work from Washington in the upcoming years. It is apparent that the hope will be satisfied, being that his name is only starting to generate popular notoriety.
Featured Photo by Brittany No Fomo