Album of the Week: Everything is Recorded by Richard Russell
“In many respects, this is a continuation of something I started nearly ten years ago,”, says Richard Russell; owner of one of the UK’s most exciting independent labels XL Recordings. Converting a Notting Hill townhouse into a home studio, Russell created the perfect environment for a series of jam sessions that would eventually become Everything is Recorded.
Kicking off the album of is ‘Intro’, containing a mish-mash of contributions including the vocals of Sampha, Chuck Roberts of Mr. Fingers’ ‘Can You Feel It’, as well as a sample from ‘Be My Friend’; showcasing what is to come. ‘Close But Not Quite’ begins with dreamy flute and piano juxtaposing melancholy lyrics such as “these are just words…they cannot express pain” accentuated by Sampha’s unique, rich vocals. Intertwined with this is the brass-rich Curtis Mayfield; an influential and politically-conscious soul musician adding welcome change between verses.
Aside from Curtis Mayfield, the whole project is clearly infused with African-American soul influence. ‘Cane’ features an extract from a book of the same name written by Harlem Renaissance author Jean Toomer, and the interlude ‘Echoes in the Bone’ includes vocals of jazz musician Gil Scott-Heron, who worked with Russell in 2010 on his album ‘I’m New Here’. Mixing the old school with modern funk-infused trip-hop repurposes soul for a new generation. While the collective performance of each of the artists is impressive, Giggs in particular shines on the song ‘Wet Looking Road’; the incessant beat combined with the rapper’s smooth flow making for a banger of a song, despite arguably shallow lyrics.
‘Mountains of Gold’ is another highlight. It features the most eclectic mix of artists, including Parisian duo Ibeyi, jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington, and New York emcee Wiki. Bold piano chords introduce silky vocals from the Ibeyi sisters, followed by a psychedelic chorus from Sampha and a saxophone solo from Washington. The number of different features on the song exemplifies what this project is about, and best achieves Russell’s aim.
The album is concluded with the eponymous track ‘Everything is Recorded’ — once again, featuring the talents of Sampha. The song reiterates the refrain also found on both ‘Intro’ and ‘Purify — Interlude’ “It is possible to feel alone and not work alone”, sampled from Dallas preacher TD Jakes. Those thought-provoking words provide a different perspective on the albums collaborative nature, and make it clear to the listener that Richard Russell is as talented in producing music as he is in releasing it.
Article: Mariella Bevan
URY Music Editor: Alex West