Alphabets Heaven: Jay's Odyssey
King Deluxe

On his premiere Alphabets Heaven release, Jay's Odyssey, London, England-based Jonny Wildey serves up thirty-two minutes of brain-addling stutter-funk that'll have you cranking up the system, easing back, and soaking up the serenading tunes. Wildey's boombastic head-nod has its ears close to the ground, as it picks up signals from innovative beat-makers on both sides of the Atlantic. Listening to Alphabets Heaven's tripped-out brew, names like Flying Lotus, Teebs, and Eskmo come to mind, but there are nevertheless hints of a personalized vision in play, even if parallels can be drawn to like-minded producers in this post-Dilla era.

“Blue Garden” gets things started promisingly with a dizzying swirl of harp strums, skeletal bass throb, and synthesizer squeals gradually giving way to legato electric guitar strums and wiry beats. With a vocal borrowed from Alessi's Ark album Notes from the Treehouse (Virgin, 2009), “Woman” can't help but call Flying Lotus to mind, given the way the vocal snakes its way through a stuttering playground of harps and hazy beats. “Walk On” likewise finds snippets of female vocalists straddling the edges of a neon-lit, clip-hop pulse, while “Devil,” driven by a broken beat pulse, wends a funkier route through its flickering landscape of vocal fragments and synth flares. Wildey even takes a few moments to dip into drum'n'bass during “All Night” though the tune rarely stays in place long enough to be reduced to a simple genre exercise. The closing track “Elizabeth” (featuring Jo D's soulful murmur) suggests Wildey's music works best when he settles into a particular groove and allows the material to develop organically out of it. The mini-album's fresh cuts roll through slow-motion head nod (“Squuaares”) and tripped-out boom-bap (“Frank”), splattering its stop-start rhythms with vocal fragments and sub-bass thunder along the way. Jay's Odyssey certainly sounds like a promising debut to these ears, and one expects that next time ‘round Wildey's sound will be even more fully-formed than it is here.

March 2011