Byron The Aquarius on form with new LP on Mutual Intentions
The Alabama-born keyboard magician shows typically deft touches on his debut long-player, ‘Astral Traveling’.
Our first contact with the exquisite stylings of Byron Blaylock came back in 2007 when he collaborated with Parisian MPC disciple Onra, lacing his keys on ‘The Big Payback EP’. Fast forward nine years and we were dazzled once more - this time by his debut outing as Byron The Aquarius - on the Kai Alce produced ‘High Life EP’, released on the always on-point Sound Signature.
Since making the progression from session player to producer, his rise to the fore has been as brisk as it is merited - with outstanding releases on Wild Oats, Eglo, Ninja Tune and Second Hand confirming his reputation as an artist with something to say. Indeed, for us, it’s his love of what he refers to as ‘live frequencies’ and expert control over musical flow that set him apart.
With such a pronounced body of work already behind him, it’s perhaps surprising that this is his first fully-fledged album. The proud home for the LP is Oslo-based Mutual Intentions - a label born out of the musical and visual arts collective of the same name.
The record isn’t short of highlights: From the floating keys, yearning vocal and heavy bass of opener ‘Love Is 4 U’, to shades of vintage Kerri Chandler in the driving, vocoder infused groove of ‘Universal Love’, and on into to the deep neo-soul of ‘My Only Life’.
We chose two of our favourites to play you here. First up is the Detroit flavour of ‘Sorry Kari’. Forlorn vocals echo in the distance as the determined bass rolls under a stripped beat, while its space-age lead synth gallops over rich pads and jazz piano - eventually giving way to a funk-fuelled lead guitar. Weighted yet introspective, it’s been getting much affection via the speakers at Cosmic Tiger HQ.
Next we have the future-funk freak-out of ‘Deep In That ****’. Serious virtuosity is on show as dreamy e-piano and synth motifs interweave, expand, contract and meander over smokey beats, as the outrageously low slung and perfectly placed sawtooth bass teases and solidifies the rhythm.
The loose and varied album is an accomplished excursion from Byron and we were very happy to be able to feature it here. It’s out now in all good stores and you can buy it right here.