As any creative will attest, walking the line between the desire to push new boundaries whilst simultaneously honouring the roots of what came before is a tightrope narrow enough that few ever walk it without losing balance along the way. The shadow cast by the pressure of previous success can loom heavy enough that we might fall in our unwavering path to innovation, or worse yet, may never even take the first step in fear of falling at all. But flying high in the face of such obstacles comes soaring the combined musical powers of Kamaliza Salamba and Aaron Bannie under the mast of their super-group moniker Night Tales with the evidence of how their debut LP ‘Proof’ is just that.
It’s a sentiment exemplified perhaps most fitting by the aptly named ‘Phoenix’ – a refreshingly innovative take on both melodic and progressive styles by virtue of a blended combination of both the traditional pop tropes previously pioneered by Salamba in tandem with the contemporary dance-styled strengths offered by Bannie. Much like its namesake, it stands as proof in the concept of rebirth for both Salamba and Bannie’s musical persona into something much greater than the sum of its parts, setting the pace for what is ultimately the punctuating premise of the entire LP itself – confidence. Confidence to evolve, to collaborate and to depart from the comfort of old creative haunts to go where new stories are itching to be told.
A metamorphosis of the DNA that made past successes of Olympic Ayres and Kamaliza still resides in the infectious vocal musings layered ever-so upfront in the mix of each track just as the unmistakably soulful progressions, sample selections and indomitable groove signatures of ItsBannie and Third Floor serve as their foundation.
And immediately obvious from the go, as the opening introduction and subsequent ‘Thinking About You’ once again proves. A lush bed of luxurious arpeggiations, reverb-laden tenor vocal harmonies and punctuating garage beat, it’s a shame that we are only treated to such deviations to the standard dance statis-quo sporadically throughout, as in the playful ‘Take It Slow’, the emotionally-charged ‘Be Mine’, and once again in closing.
It’s a missed opportunity that Proof at times almost falls just shy of pushing the envelope perhaps far enough, missing out on the opportunity to shake up some of its arrangement’s pacing, synthesis ideas and motifs into even further uncharted landscapes. To criticise pop sensibilities for their accessibility would be like criticising a pop song for being effective, but it does make for a curious listen as to what could have been achieved had most ideas not been in a rush to be done and dusted in a typical 3-to-5-minute framework. This is best corroborated by the welcome return of such diversity in slow-burning album closer ‘Breathe’ and its fearlessness in deviating from said tempo thus far. It’s ironically in its desire for consistency that it could be argued Proof bears its highest degree of inconsistency, but possibly its greatest opportunity for evolution.
It’s a perfect closing sentiment in what ultimately resounds time again as proof. Proof of concept. Proof of ability. And proof that there’s something very undeniable about the undivided attention you should be giving toward whatever it is this dynamic duo have in store next.
out now via: Ultra Music
artist connect: Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter | Instagram