In the dizzying age of information and digital hangovers, it is simple to forget that traditional music methodology and craftsmanship is still championed by artists. Matthew Tavares (keyboards and synthesiser), Chester Hansen (bass guitar), Alexander Sowinski (drums) and Leland Whitty (saxophone) are together BADBADNOTGOOD. The band have steadily climbed an analogue ladder of genuine musical values over the years, fastening them among one of the best live acts around. The trio, now adapted as a quartet, has pushed the boundaries of jazz, hip-hop and everything in between, with modern volumes of passion and exotic eagerness. Their latest record, IV, has seen them amass a body of work that has helped define jazz music of today, with a subconscious music history lesson of yesteryear.
Having known to include a live hip-hop element within their expressionist free improv and hard bop style, IV sees the band combine a vibrant fusion excursion from previous sounds. The first track, And That, Too, utilises snare echoes and a walking bassline that wraps around a memorable saxophone – a twisting vine of delicate exuberance. The jazz tipped R&B textures held together on Time Moves Slow feature the stripped back vocal presence of Samuel T Herring. It’s a naturally hypnotic earworm that flaunts sultry guitar, brusque and deep drum plans, and an unforgettable and refreshing bassline. Confessions Pt II is a sequel to the 2014 song Confessions and features BBNG’s new core member and multi-instrumentalist, Leland Whitty. It boasts a fluency and ripe jazz language one could expect, pounding with a pulse of intensity and eye-widening skill. The track’s bassline, drumming, and faint keys are all respectively sublime, but it’s all about Whitty’s lung-wrenching saxophone ventures.
Collaborating with LA-based beatmaker KAYTRANADA on Lavender, the murderous bassy synth chords and stabbed keys weave within a feathered drum faculty. Reminiscent of Hancock’s Chameleon, it’s a monstrous memory that will haunt the mind and embrace the cleanest of souls. The title track, IV, moves through seven minutes of free throwing instrumentation and an intellectual veracity, serving as the record’s most established jazz-focused track. The record finishes with Cashmere – a noir laced moment with blue tenderness and a lounged relaxation. The near five-minute salute transports the auditor into a velvet jazz club aura, plugging along a fully fledged spectrum of improv and written magnificence.
The album serves as their most thoughtful release to date, stepping away from live hip-hop covers by leafing through their own jumbling fruits of free forming musical magnitude. BBNG’s IV asserts itself as a go-to for die-hard jazz fans and rap heads or modern sound aficionados alike. Whatever your stance, this is an album that will plant itself among the eclectic classics of the contemporary era.