Every person we meet, every moment we live through, all the love we feel, and the losses we endure, add another layer to the intricate pattern of our lives. Like multicolored threads, these layers twist together to form a complex, vibrant tapestry - a reflection of our life journey until this point.
On his new album Layers, Khalab acknowledges and celebrates the encounters that have shaped his ever-evolving musical vision. The record represents the culmination of a creative journey that began with Eunoto EP (Black Acre Records, 2015), evolved with the Afro-Futuristic soundscapes of 2018’s highly acclaimed album Black Noise 2084 (On The Corner Records), and has since developed further through a series of experiences and deep musical collaborations. Layers summons all the alchemy of Khalab’s live performances, and embodies the transcendental power of music-making as a collective art form.
“Since the release of Black Noise 2084 I’ve increasingly developed the stage and band dynamic, focusing on arranging with the musicians in mind, and this album was almost entirely conceived together with musicians I’ve collaborated with”, says Khalab.
In a testament to the label’s close-knit and highly collaborative nature, Khalab's live band includes a cadre of musicians from the Hyperjazz family, including David Paulis and Enrico Truzzi of Phresoul, as well Pietro Santangelo, Fabio Sasso, and longstanding creative-partner Nicola Guida.
The album’s nine tracks feature an impressive lineup of collaborators old and new, including UK drummer and producer Emanative, Burkinabe singer, guitarist, and m'bira player Gabin Dabiré, Italian producer Clap! Clap!, multi-wind instrumentalist Tamar Osborn, drummer and producer Tommaso Cappellato, British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, Bristol’s vocalist and producer Grove, multi-instrumentalist Tenderlonious, Italian jazz singer Alessia Obino and British-born Nigerian spoken-word artist Joshua Idehen.
Layers still revolve around the key components of Khalab’s sound - dark and trancey electronics and his research into Black music and all its evolutions - but with a bigger emphasis on harmonic arrangements. Across the record, Khalab’s productions twist and pulsate into mesmerizing motifs, as the interplay between different instruments coalesce into focused melodies and rich, complex textures. Khalab and his collaborators masterfully blend gloomy and radiant tones, eliciting feelings of both doom and hope.
For Khalab, Layers represents the end point of a journey that began with the synthesis of ancestral rhythms and electronic experimentation on Black Noise 2084 and has taken him on a meandering route through a Mauritanian refugee camp (M’berra, Real World Recordings, 2021), and deep into the catalogs of legendary Italian labels Soul Note and Black Saint (for the Hyperituals compilations).
To Gabin, a friend, a teacher, a guide, and a constant inspiration.
released August 25, 2023
All tracks written & arranged by Khalab
Produced by Khalab & DJ Knuf
With the vital contribution of these amazing musicians:
1. Yazz Ahmed (flugelhorn, trumpet), Alessia Obino (voice), Nicola Guida (synths), Fabio Sasso (drums)
2. Emanative (drums), Tamar Osborn (baritone saxophone), Grove (lyrics, voice)
3. Lady Blue Eyes (voice)
4. Cristiano Crisci (synths), Pietro Santangelo (tenor saxophone)
5. Joshua Idehen (lyrics, voice), Cristiano Crisci (additional synths)
6. Tommaso Cappellato (synths), Enrico Truzzi (drums), David Paulis (electric bass), Cristiano Crisci (additional synths)
7. Gabin Dabiré (voice, m’bira)
8. Tenderlonious (flute)
9. Magnus PI (percussion), Alessia Obino (voice), Pietro Santangelo (tenor saxophone), Enrico Truzzi (drums)
Mix by DJ Knuf at Studio 33, Rome
Remix by Khalab at Studio 33, Rome
Megamix by Satori Stereo Saiyan
Mastered by Frank Merritt at The Carvery, London
Like so many others, this came like a bolt out of the blue and, even though it's well before payday, I had to have this astonishing album on vinyl to prove it exists. The feel of the tunes makes me feel like the Impressions do, Curtis Mayfield, the big spaces and instinctive horns and stuff drifting in and out. Great grooves and I can see lots of ghosts nodding along to this with big smiles on their faces. At last! Anthony Cottrell