Jazz

Voyager (CD)

You'd figure with a name like Moonchild, you'd be ready to brace for a King Crimson prog band or some spacey, out there weirdness. Instead, Moonchild is an ethereal, neo-soul trio that gets so smooth, your body might melt into a puddle. Combing jazz harmonics, quiet vocals, and funky riffs that haven't been heard like this since 1989, Moonchild's third album, Voyager, follows in the path of beat heavy jazz that's been paved by the likes of Madlib, Kendrick Lamar, and Flying Lotus. It's a hard album to pin down and it makes sense that they've toured with acts as diverse as The Internet, Stevie Wonder, and Jill Scott, while securing the blessings of Robert Glasper and Tyler, the Creator. The rhythms are straight ahead R&B, relying on grooves that feel primed to be chopped and mixed, and the drumming is clean, heavy, and bass-filled. The real highlight is the mix of instruments that are missing from music today, including that one-of-a-kind vibe of a Fender Rhodes; a sound drastically longed for since 1980. This is a perfect as late night music gets. The first single, "Cure", opens with one extended synth note over quiet jazz guitar and snaps, and then lead-singer Amber Navran's voice coos in somewhere between cafe indie folkie and diva bravado. It's a delicate balance that never teeters into over-the-top showiness and highlights her restrain with the material as her voice blends beautifully with the melodies. "Show The Way" feels like an early-'90s sleeper hit. It combines bossa nova-like rhythms with just a bit of hip-hip inflection to sculpt a track that's pure concentrated cool to the nth degree. The mood is relaxing and one listen feels like a cleanse for your ears and mind. So smooth. So funky.

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