AHMN: WHO STOLE MY DOG
What can I say? I'm a sucker for a piano instrumental.
AHMN's WHO STOLE MY DOG is just lovely piece of music. You can float on the instrumentation and never feel like the ride is ever derailed. Even the one instance on the EP when there is substantial vocal work ("LAZY AGENT") is non-invasive. Smooth jazz for a new generation. Along the lines of Robert Glasper or Anomalie in terms of being able to transcend the confines of traditional jazz and intersect the energy of R&B and subtle bounce of '90s-inspired hip hop (think ATCQ and the first iteration of the Black Eyed Peas). The entire EP works on this level of groove, not over-taxing. Simple and sensual, quite literally playing on the senses.
The final moments of "CHICKEN TRAP" are just... Another one of those tracks that pulls an audible reaction out of me. The transition was almost Jamiroquai-esque: so subtle you don't realize it's happening until you're there, transported to another mood and sensation from where you were when the track began. AHMN has a very distinct timing and sound that endears his style of piano playing to someone like me who grew up around piano music and new-age jazz. It's just the right amount of trained and controlled to just sound good. Yet there's so much playfulness, so much lack of pretention that you can easily slot the sound into your life without disruption. Background music with enough bounce to be appreciated.
Now, if you're into album credits, you'll notice a familiar name in the liner notes. Samuel Seo acted as the EP's co-producer. And it shows in some of the subtle "Seo-isms" that make their presence known. The ending volta and change of tempo and pacing indicative of the music he creates himself. (I told you all he's starting to leave his fingerprint on every project where he acts as producer.) Also makes sense that he'd show up. AHMN has been a part of Seo's creative circle for some time now. You can tell there's an incredible amount of trust between them. An ebb and flow, give and take that has produced an undeniably smooth piece of music.
WSMD manages to be experimental without crossing the line into real free jazz. The closest we get is the scatter-beat nu-jazz of "ZAMIONI." It's a piece of interstellar magic that harkens back to some of the elemental house/dance music of the early-mid '90s. Bordering on acid jazz, "ZAMIONI" is one hell of a way to end this EP.
Seems this year is another good one for debuts. AHMN's first foray into "solo" work (however solo an instrumentalist can be when they work with other musicians on a mainly instrumental album) definitely shows promise. I can't wait to see what else he brings us. I'm always in the market for a good pianist.