Genre helps to categorise music but it also restricts and limits. Artists belonging to a musical genre are offered the luxury of possessing a simpler method to market their creations. But art generally not considered to fit into a specific and definable genre can be difficult to promote and exploit commercially.
Bastien Keb’s debut album, Dinking in the Shadows of Zizou, is an example of a musician stepping out of the boundaries and confines offered by usual musical classifications. An album named after a retired French footballer (Zinedine Zidane), created by a native of Leamington Spa and possessing numerous musical and cultural reference points including: jazz, soul, hip hop, experimental, avant-garde, ambient, electronica, afro beat, movie scores and funk, does not seem to be an obvious example of a high quality release, but this is one of the most interesting and absorbing albums of 2015.
Warwickshire-based, multi-instrumentalist and TV music composer, Bastien Keb leaps from one musical idea to another, but with confidence and panache. Gritty one moment and opulent the next, Dinking in the Shadows of Zizou reels in the listener with its textured and dynamic soundscapes, groove riddled rhythms, fascinating synth parts and curious structures and arrangements. Of the 11 tracks, seven have vocals, but I would be false in saying that they are full vocal tracks per se, as some tend to use vocals briefly and not in the usual verse/chorus manner.
Other instrumentation includes guitars, as Bastien is an accomplished guitarist, acoustic drums, percussion, flute, trumpet and other instruments including some choppy bell and glass-like samples. The keyboard, synthesiser and organ touches are also compelling. But overall, the album does possess a soulful quality, without it being an actual soul record. Nonetheless, ‘Down River’ could be the new release by Jordan Rakei.
Forward thinking UK independent label One-Handed Music, home also to Mo Kolours and Paul White, have to be commended for releasing an album that doesn’t quite fit into a precise aesthetic, but this is label’s strongest release to date.
Criticisms – well, some tracks are rather short and although they could be used as cues within a soundtrack, four tracks on the album are less than two minutes long. And although there is a vinyl release, only 300 copies were pressed – so hopefully a repress will be forthcoming to satisfy the needs of the vinyl collectors.
So for a debut release, this is a fantastic start to a hopefully fruitful career and I look forward to hearing more from Bastien in the future.