“Most musicians can’t groove, they don’t feel the music”, explains Joe Sample over one of Glenn Astro‘s many infectious breakdowns on the Throwback LP. Valuing instinct over structure is at the heart of the late, great pianist’s devotion to jazz, and it has come to have a profound influence on music at large. What isn’t up for debate is that Glenn Astro and comrades such as Max Graef and IMYRMIND, who both feature on the album, adhere to Sample’s mantra.
It’s no revelation that these artists have a penchant for house and hip–hop beats, favouring improvisation, live drum samples and stripped back, raw compositions, all of which are instructed by jazz. Astro’s debut LP Throwback, which just landed on Copenhagen imprint Tartelet Records, isn’t breaking new ground but rather building on the solid foundations laid by the Berlin crew who for the past few years have re-imagined this genre within today’s electronic music environment.
Also informed from the past is how Astro approached the task of making an album. To paraphrase, there’s been a deconstruction of the LP as an art form, so the aim is to remedy this by taking listeners on a journey, with highs, lows, interludes and narrative. Throwback has no concern with making a loosely connected list of tracks working to a genre prescription as is the zeitgeist, but happily whistles to its own nostalgic tune.
And what a tune. A personal highlight is ‘One for Viktor’, a touching ode to Glenn’s brother who passed away a couple of years ago. Cowbells, claps and a single-word sample are softly worked into the mix, before it breaks down and makes way for a sumptuous saxophone solo which is then re-laid over the beat. Just as smooth is the progression in the middle of ‘Forgotten Intro’, moving from a laid-back hip hop beat to house tempo, and feels a consequence of Sample’s philosophy. The most pleasing element to the album however, doesn’t come through individual tracks; rather, with every listen, different samples, synth oscillations and melodies provide fresh earworms. This delivers longevity, hopefully long into the summer, where Throwback will surely sound most compelling.
Throwback LP is now available on digi and vinyl via Tartelet Records.