U.K. production boys Darius and James, better known in the underground funk/dance scene as Dary and Jreel of Ill Blu, have banded together once again to release their latest EP The Blu Oceans Project on Island Records. The talented duo and long time friends gained considerable recognition after contributing to Princess Nyah’s Frontline during the 2008/2009 U.K. funky scene and since then, have worked festivals and clubs throughout Europe making a name for themselves in the quietly simmering underground house scene.
Both musicians in their own right, Jreel a competent keyboard player and Dary on drums and guitar, the North Londoners are determined not to be labelled as simply “mouse clickers”, preferring instead to bring something of substance to their songs. They’ve done a great job too at achieving this goal with some nice layering of sounds, interesting effects and an awareness of both song and album structure. Their love for bass can be heard throughout and it works well as a glue to hold everything else together while a clear appreciation for a good melody is evidenced in the great vocal deliveries of guest singers JP Cooper, Kahlia Bakosi and Anouck B.
The opening track Oceans grabs the listener’s attention immediately with its catchy vocal hooks and as time passes the song moves from strength to strength. A great mix of instrumentation and well-placed riffs help to give the track some shape, which ultimately cradles the melodic vocal line. It’s clear too that the boys in Ill Blu have a good understanding of what gets a crowd moving with their clever use of build ups, drops and singable lines. These techniques are used throughout the EP although we are offered a reprieve from the heavy four-to-the-floor beats on the end track Want You. A rhythmically interesting number that showcases the duo’s versatility.
If there’s one criticism however, it’s that they might want to try experimenting even more with their electronic effects as quite often, the same treatment and similar usage can be heard on different tracks. Overall though, Ill Blu have created a strong EP that showcases their confidence and ability to create dance/house/funky tunes that not only get our bodies moving but also our feelings, feeling! With an insatiable appetite for understanding what makes a good melody work, they are sure to be producing more winning tracks in the future as their popularity grows.