Last year I reviewed the rather wonderful Lost Horizons album. This was a recording project helmed by label owner Simon Raymonde, of Bella Union and featured collaborations by a number of artists on the label’s roster. Everything is Recorded is basically the same idea but a more beat heavy approach.
The supergroup is the project of XL Recordings label head Richard Russell and there are tons of collaborations. Most are from the XL (and sister label Young Turks) roster Such as Sampha, Ibeyi,Wiki and Kamasi Washington. Other guests include Damon Albarn, Owen Pallett, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside and Peter Gabriel but to be honest these musicians contribute to the music, rather than singing on the album.
The album starts off with a mini mix of the album and it becomes that the moniker Everything is Recorded is no misnomer for throughout the album there’s a mix of styles; there’s the soulful Close but not Quite with Sampha’s mellifluous vocals, honestly the guy could read a shopping list and give the listener goosebumps,She Said has a hip hop backbeat then the reggae lite of Wet Looking Road and back again to soul with standout, Mountains of Gold by then already half the record is finished but it just goes to show how this album flows despite the mixtape feel.
Everything is Recorded reminds me of a modern take of the trip hop albums I used to listen to in the mid 90’s. There’s a distinctly nighttime feel to these tracks, though this is not to say that these songs are sinister but there is a downbeat atmosphere and it is great, the vocal samples weaving in and out of the beats also complements the vibe.
Usually so many collaborations, there are 22 guests on this record, lead to an egofest but on here it’s missing. Each artist has their own space to sing and they use it well, giving it a 100% saying that Ibeyi is clearly the star as half the album features their vocals but it feels organic and their voices blend in nicely and work well with the other guests and shifting the big name collaborators to the background is an interesting idea that helps push the younger talent on the record.
As this is a producer’s album, the production values are of a high standard. Even after my 10th listen I still am discovering new sounds be it studio dialogue or a beeping noise, Everything is Recorded is a surprisingly busy album but it’s done so well that after a while one notices there’s a lot going on.
Everything is Recorded is an excellent album, filled with many moments that just make the listener shiver. The fact that this project has over twenty guests and it all hangs together in an organic manner gives the middle finger to the cliche too many cooks spoil the broth. Here this soup is probably rich but good for you.