Abstract Orchestra-Madvillain Volume 1-Vinyl.

Label: ATA.

On the ‘30th’ of June 2017, the Abstract Orchestra, who are led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell, released their debut album Dilla to plaudits and praise. Buoyed the response to Dilla, the Abstract Orchestra headed out on a lengthy tour of Britain where the all-star hip hop band’s music found a new and wider audience.

 Just eight months later in February 2018 the Abstract Orchestra released their new single New Day which featured Illa J. By then, critics, cultural commentators and tastemakers had been won over by one of the hardest working bands on the live scene. 

Now, nine months later, the Abstract Orchestra have just released their much-anticipated sophomore album Madvillain Volume 1 on the ATA label. It’s sure to be welcomed by the Abstract Orchestra’s large and loyal fanbase who will embrace Madvillain Volume 1 which builds on their debut album and features some of the top musicians on the north of England’s jazz scene. T

Since the release of Dilla in June 2017, the Abstract Orchestra have been familiar faces in concert halls across Britain where they showcase their unique sound. Abstract Orchestra is based on the classic big band sound, and features some of the top musicians from the north of England’s jazz scene. Their saxophones, trombones and trumpets have accompanied everyone from Jamiroquai, Mark Ronson and Roots Manuva to Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae and Martha Reeves right through to John Legend and The Roots. Now though, they play together as the Abstract Orchestra, who have been inspired by various artists.

This includes live performances of The Roots with Jay-Z, Miguel-Atwood Ferguson’s forty piece orchestral arrangements the work of J Dilla. The combination of classic arranging techniques are combined with modern loop-based structures which  breathing new life and meaning into familiar tracks on  Madvillain Volume 1.

Here, the Abstract Orchestra  pickup where they left of on Dilla, and take a similar approach. This is the same approach that MF Doom and Madlib aka Madvillain took when they collaborated on the albums Madvillainy and Madvillain.  Part of this approach was sampling.

On Madvillain Volume 1, Abstract Orchestra samples everyone from Sun Ra and Stevie Wonder to Bill Evans, Dr Lonnie Smith, Freddie Hubbard, George Duke and  Quincy Jones. These samples are woven into the rich musical tapestry that is Madvillain Volume 1, which has a jazz-tinged sound and ethos. It features eight tracks which were deconstructed and reimagined  by the Abstract Orchestra and recorded live in the studio, with hardly any overdubs. That is quite remarkable given the complexity of Madvillain Volume 1 which is  a multilayered genre-melting album.

On Madvillain Volume 1 the Abstract Orchestra explore the jazz TV soundtrack and film score aspect of the original work. This they combine with classic big band writing whilst focusing on improvisation. Listen carefully and the influence of Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin and David Shire who wrote the soundtrack to The Taking of Pelham 123 can be heard. However, bandleader and  saxophonist Rob Mitchell makes sure to create his own unique and inimitable sound that sits somewhere between jazz and hip hop. 

The best way to describe the music on Madvillain Volume 1 is somewhere between Madlib’s production and Quincy Jones’ writing. This results in an album that combines the cinematic sound of library music with jazz, hip hop and funk. There’s even a nod to many a seventies cop show soundtrack on Madvillain Volume 1.  

It features music which veers between beautiful and lush to broody, moody and menacing and other times angular and dissonant. Always though the music on Madvillain Volume 1 continues to captivate and will appeal to anyone who likes hip hop, jazz, library music or soundtrack albums.

Sometimes during Madvillain Volume 1 the influence of both Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin can be heard,and it seems both men have influenced and inspired bandleader and arranger Rob Mitchell on Madvillain Volume 1. He surpasses himself on the Abstract Orchestra’s much anticipated sophomore album Madvillain Volume 1, which is a career defining album from Britain’s all-star hip hop big band whose music deserves to find an even wider audience.

Abstract Orchestra-Madvillain Volume 1-Vinyl.

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