Album Review: Christian Rich – FW142 min read
Born in Chicago, raised in Nigeria and now based in LA under the guidance of the titanic Pharrell Williams, twins Taiwo and Kehinde Hassan have lent their prodigious production talents to numerous number 1 albums, including Drake’s Nothing Was the Same, Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet and Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris, as well as collaborating with artists like Lupe Fiasco, Diddy and Vince Staples. Working under the moniker Christian Rich, the Grammy nominated pair have finally used their assorted skills and inspirations, honed through prolific collaborative work, to create their own debut album. FW14 is a diverse and animated record, brimming with features, freshness and a fascination with the future.
The sonic disparities between the LP’s initial two tracks immediately reveal the pair’s vast influences and capacities. Its 40-second introduction of jazz-inspired, double bass natural groove cacophonously evolves into club banger High; a jarring juxtaposition that is both destabilising and exciting, but never graceless. Featuring a partnership between promising rappers Vince Staples and BIA, High’s aggressive assault eventually gives way to the breezy R&B of Disappear.
Forever engages with the brothers’ fascination with all things futuristic and otherworldly. Featuring an almost modal, synthesised ostinato at its opening, Jack Davey’s dulcet tones light a path through the shuddering synthesisers. Bells continues similarly, but offers a more natural and nuanced soundscape. Flawlessly created and polished, Bells creates an unparalleled musical backdrop for stunning jazz singer Niia, whose striking, technically-impeccable voice sounds just at home over futuristic beats as it does scatting over a lone piano.
This run of dreamier soul continues throughout the midsection, with each track offering a slightly different mood, and effects – be they the intoxicating funk undercurrent of Real Love, or the beautiful orchestrated wailing strings in Fast Life. Ever propulsive, the more indie-pop inclined Better To delivers another level of energy. The highly danceable track features a beautiful duet between indie-rock band DWNTWN and the Now Faith Apostolic Church Children’s Choir. The fluttering antics of Compromise marry bounce and brazen sensuality, while slowjam FACE is both buttery and eerily beautiful, as Denitia and Sene team up with Christian Rich to create a minimal, goose bump-inducing track that exploits the boys’ real knack for string structures. The triplet structure in the otherwise velvety Glory injects an unsettling energy before FW14 closes with the banging retro funk throwback What More, led by the legendary Steve Arrington.
The pair’s attention to detail is admirable. They never expose an inclination to stick to one genre or one sound, instead stamping their debut with the same professional artistry that is immediately apparent on all they do.