20 Jun 2021
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Mark de Clive-Lowe - EP Review: Midnight Snacks Vol.1

16 Apr 2021 // A review by Mike Alexander

Mark de Clive-Lowe’s musical palette has always been so refreshing engaging and diverse that each new release is like receiving a care package – you don’t know what’s inside but you know you’ll find comfort in it.

The Los Angeles-based Kiwi musician, DJ and night club and record label owner has been particularly busy in the last few years with albums and EPs ranging from the chillingly melodious jazz quartet outing Live At The Blue Whale, the steamingly funky club party Church Sessions with various cohorts and the conceptual Heritage I and II, which celebrated his bi-cultural heritage (he is half-Japanese).

His latest release, the four track Midnight Snacks Vol.1 sees the return of the broken beats ninja, who is often cited as one of the pioneers of the scene when he was residing in London in the late 1990's and early to mid 2000's. Certainly, the almost spiritual ecstasy of Journey 2 The Light, his 2007 collaboration with Bembe Segue is essential listening for anyone interested in the genre.

In the accompanying notes to Midnight Snacks Vol.1, which is, as the title suggests, is the first in a new series he’s releasing on his own imprint, Mashibeats, he describes the opening track Joyful Resistance Part 1 as having been created ”at the peak of last summer's social uprisings in the US and around the world”.

It beautifully encapsulates what should be a fundamental tenet - not just that black lives matter but that we are morally bound to joyfully resist any form of social toxicity, inequity or discrimination if we ever want to flourish as people of good will. It’s probably my imagination but the mood of the track is made more poignant by some exquisitely beautiful, crystalline and lyrical piano playing which bought to mind echoes of South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, who exiled himself because of that country’s apartheid regime. The track builds in a meditative way, a piano motif stated and restated, a gorgeous bass that reverberates so deeply you are surprised the strings are still in the same orbit as the body, a light flourish of strings that builds and loosely meanders into squelchiness without losing its subtlety and then another drop kick de Clive-Lowe beat special that’s so earthy you can almost smell it.

Blue Hour is an early riser, with a shaded synthesiser backdrop, a lolloping bass line and humping beat and de Clive-Lowe’s almost signature piano impromptus, which dance around with a cheeky, and at times funky, playfulness. A synthesiser is gradually syncopated to the beat, almost as if tracking the sun rising and then there’s a lovely kind of repetitive high hat fade out that has the sort of reverse effect that club bangers use to work up a crowd.

37,000 Feet shimmers with Rhodes and some great percussive sounds, zips along in squishes and squiggles over an off-kilter beat and then cruises into a kind of controlled mayhem – with different instruments clamouring for your attention. It’s not a bumpy ride but gives the visual sense that there’s a lot going on.

The final track Thanks Given reminds you of why he might have called this outing Midnight Snacks Vol.1.This one’s definitely got chocolate cake written all over it with a “broken boogie” beat, glistening Rhodes again, a shuffling rhythm, pumped up bass, and vintage era Weather Report synthesiser sketching. A steaming piano solo comes in late to give substance to the gooey squishiness that’s dripping around it.

I’m in happy place again. Enough said.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Mark de Clive-Lowe

'Call it nu-jazz, call it nu-house, call it future-jazz, in fact call it what you want, I'm sticking with the words awesome and genius' – Wax Magazine (UK)

Born in 1974 in New Zealand, half Japanese half New Zealander musician/producer Mark de Clive-Lowe has been on the music journey since starting Piano when he was four. Classical Piano lessons, Jazz for playing pleasure and hip-hop on the stereo gave Mark the diverse foundation that his eclectic style has developed from.

Mark's musical journeying has taken him to the US, UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Cuba. Performing and recording in different settings including collaborations with DJ/producers and turntablists, acoustic jazz, Japanese Kagura, and the world of latin rhythms, Mark has become a major figure in the nu-jazz movement, blending jazz, ethnic music and urban grooves into a fresh 21st Century flavour.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mark de Clive-Lowe

Releases

Midnight Snacks Vol. 1
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Heritage
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Heritage II
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Take The Space Trane
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Renegades
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Tide's Arising
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Melodius Beats Vol. 1
Year: 2003
Type: Album
Six Degrees
Year: 1999
Type: Album

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