Moses Boyd has had a dazzling career so far. A few of his accolades include being the poster boy of the London jazz scene, after winning the Mobo for best jazz act in 2015 as half of free jazz duo Binker and Moses. Binker and Moses have a few releases under their belt, all with great critical acclaim.
In his solo debut Dark Matter, he plays a multifaceted role and the result is astounding. Not only is this album an impressive jazz collection, Boyd also solidifies his talent as a composer, arranger, band leader and producer. Dark Matter features a rich melting pot of genre influences including Afrobeat, gospel, dub, R&B, rock and the electronic stylings of Boyd’s childhood favorite-grime.
Opener “Stranger than Fiction” strikes a unique balance between careful composition and free improvisation. It features a bouncy, brass driven rhythm with a smoky saxophone jazz line. “BTB” features an electric guitar solo, commanding horns and a dense percussion suite. An ever-dynamic journey that pits an ensemble of instruments to improvise under a tight samba rhythm.
Boyd works with a lot of great artists in this record. Poppy Ajudha lends her vocals in “Shades of You”, A song filled with pop and R&B influences and plenty of electronic hues. “Dancing in the Dark” features Obongjayar, who swaggers in with a rap/spoken word performance in a hybrid of Afrobeat, reggae, hip hop and gospel. A political piece that follows the tribulations of Black youth in the UK.
“2 Far Gone” is my favorite pick. It features Joe Armon-Jones’s stellar work on the keys, jumping through moods and shades along with Boyd’s sampled drum rhythms and spliced up vocals. A marriage of traditional jazz and modern techniques.
The greatest strength of Dark Matter is the drum work. Boyd displays exceptional skill on the kit and his arrangements using electronic 808’s and drum pads is a masterclass for any musician.
Dark Matter is a stellar debut. The mixture of styles and genres thrown into the mix should keep listeners on the hook. Every number invites you to dance and move. Even with the Boyd’s tendency to throw off syncopated beats and rhythms, each tune is relatively easy to follow if you’re in the mood to groove.
Moses Boyd is an exciting artist to look out for, and should make everyone excited for the future of jazz. Even when most of the greats of the genre are already gone, Boyd proves that there are a lot of things yet to explore.