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Oriol Night and Day

There's a special rush one gets driving down the freeway en route to a club or concert on a Saturday night. White and red brake lights blink and glow in traffic, wind rushes by, and fluorescently lit buildings create a halo above the city. You arrive at the spot energized and ready to plunge into music. Oriol Singhji's debut for Planet Mu, Night and Day, takes you on that journey from twilight through sunrise on an album well suited for automobile excursions. The Barcelona-born, London-based artist places analog and digital keyboards front and center in his music, and uses them with both restraint and freedom. Singhji's balance of melodic chords and astute improvisation is crucial to Night and Day's success.

The cool arpeggios on opener "Flux" are anchored by mid-tempo, funky machine rhythms that recall Kirk Degiorgio's 1997 masterpiece, Planetary Folklore. In fact, the post-trip-hop and pre-broken-beat era from 1996-1999 is a good reference point for this album. During that time British and European artists like Degiorgio, Ian O'Brien, and Gerd were exploring electro-jazz fusion territory while Claude Young, Kenny Larkin, and Anthony "Shake" Shakir were merging Detroit's melodic techno with soulful elements. You hear echoes on Singhji's "Memories" and "Jam," which feature superb pitch-wheel lead key solos. "Coconut Coast" and "5 Bars" nod respectfully to '80s electro-soul outfits Kleer or Con-Funk-Shun, but share more in common with contemporary synth stylers Dam-Funk and FaltyDL. The 11 tracks on Night and Day are all excellently arranged and consistently pleasing. It's 24 hours you won't soon forget.

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