A significant challenge musicians face is to be themselves.
Defy the mainstream.
The new trends.
And instead, create individual forms of expressions from a range of influences. It’s this truth listeners like myself relish so when I hear it, it’s pure joy.
Danish trio Athletic Progression was, until a few days ago, a new name to me and their music fresh to my ears. On further inspection, I realise I might have been a little late to this band as their social media following already contained a host of names and personal friends.
The band of Danes consist of Jonathan Jull Ludvigsen – Drums, Jonas Cook – Keys and Justo Gambula – Bass.
And hands up, they already piqued my interest with the album name – Dark Smoke.
Jazz, soul and hip-hop influenced the collection of nine songs takes you on a gorgeous journey with rap, instrumentals and soulful vocals.
The album opens with the immediately immersive Cloudy Day featuring the captivating vocal presence of Minna Forouzandeh. As an opening track, it’s a winner. Minna also features on several tracks such as Battlefield, Dark Smoke and Cut to the Cheese, and carries each into the highly-seductive genre of lo-fi/neo-soul. Elegant, and dreamy and all enthralling.
Between these sumptuous singles, the band produce two modern hip-hop tracks both of highly-listenable quality. UK Rapper Isatta Sheriff spits rhymes, fluid and sassy on Stepney Tale. Her life reflected in engaging verses. And the single – Stay Mellow features fellow Dane Blacc El who delivers a smoother rap, with a Q-Tip, Arrested Development style of flow. There are 5.41 minutes here to savour.
And interluded between these tracks are three instrumentals, Danish Design Part 1 & 2 and Club Berlin, demonstrating their jazz-influenced roots, with edgy beats, electronic keys and samples. The groove on these is endlessly-playable.
Each track earns its inclusion and announces Athletic Progression as a band with an exceedingly bright future.
Dark Smoke is an album to inhale, absorb and enjoy.
Released by Super Bad Disco / HHV Records on all digital platforms you can also purchase a vinyl copy here:
Undoubtedly the best of the year...so far!