29 Sep 2022

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Isaac Aesili - Isaac Aesili - Eye See album review

13 Sep 2009 // A review by Trevor Faville
Isaac Aesili
Eye See

This is the debut album from an experienced and educated musician with an impressive CV already, having appeared as a trumpet player and co-writer on a number of significant local releases over the last few years. His stated intent with this CD is “to offer today’s youth a counter voice to the glorification and idealisation of gangster culture, so often promoted by commercial R’n’B”

It’s a CD big on intent, then, and (at sixteen tracks long), big on scope too. Opening track Eye See is a bold beginning, in that it is a gradual and patient evolution of a mood. Many musicians would have laid all of their musical cards on the table by this point, but this kind of restraint displays more of a musical maturity. From here, a range of styles related to contemporary Urban R’n’B are covered, with reggae, soul, Hip Hop and touches of jazz and using a range of experienced singers (such as Rachel Fraser and Aaradhna) helps with the eclectic feel and gives this album depth.

Throughout, two things stand out 1) the quality and stylistic range of the vocals, and 2) the meticulous detail given to the arrangements, with Brass, keyboards and vocals layered and textured with real musical muscle- Examples are everywhere but two obvious ones are The vocal arrangements in The Heat and the brass in Jgroove Instrolude and With You In My Bed is obvious single material as it veers almost into Mark Ronson territory. Upbeat catchy and fun.

The downside is the relative lack of input from an organic rhythm section, which means that sometimes the beats become overly repetitive and therefore stiff and awkward. Stylistically, using processed beats is obviously appropriate, but one can only wonder what some ‘real’ jazzy drums might do to a track like Can I B, especially under that wonderful soloing.

These quibbles are relatively minor, though given the scope and ambition of this CD. Musically and stylistically it repeatedly hits its marks and definitely offers the range and depth that its creator intended.

Review by Trevf

About Isaac Aesili

“One of the most exciting soul talents to emerge from the South Pacific!” (Benji B, BBC1)

Originally from Christchurch, Isaac Aesili is an Auckland-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, DJ and producer who specialises in trumpet. He is of mixed Guyananese, Maori and Pakeha heritage, and the mix of cultures can be heard throughout his music. Musically, he started in 1995 winning the national NZ youth trumpet award at Tauranga Jazz Festival, and started the soul fusion band Solaa in the late 1990s with friends, and since then has been part of Opensouls, Eru Dangerspiel, The Tornadoes, and the Recloose Live Band.

He released his debut solo album Eye See in 2009. More recently he co-founded LatinAotearoa, a Latin-inspired sound system with Brazilian DJ Bobby Brazuka and Venezuelan singer Jennifer Zea. He also released an album as the Karlmarx Project with his younger brother Mark McNeill in 2010, and currently is part of the successful Lord Echo band.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Isaac Aesili


Eye See
Year: 2009
Type: Album

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