The anticipation between Osunlade albums are experiences in themselves. The high priest of house, his sound legitimizes the unseen spirit world that informs the pulse in every song he crafts. The latest EP, ‘Dedication’ functions like a sound library, a place where you can find indigenous rhythms from around the world, making Osunlade’s musical signature both ancient and futuristic. Jazz and global citizenship come through in his latest work, a decade based in Greece and a lifetime submerged in the participation, creation and production of music. With “Dedication” Osunlade boldly presents a mid-tempo meditative musical essay with reflections in the form of everyday conversations and everyday life. These selections meet global feelings of political anxiety with rhythm patterns that bring you closer to the gift of transcendence.
“Unspoken’ brings two versions with an instrumental track. It still holds the weight of a collaboration that features poet Rainey Paine and is carried by a piano rift that fills the space between her words. More than a house track, this is up-tempo nu jazz reminiscent of the UK soul movement with an identifiable Yoruba Soul groove.
The second track ‘Give Thanks’ is an ode to Mother Earth through the poetry of Said Adelekan the message is clear; gratitude is as divine as prayer. Musically, Osunlade constructs a minimalist tune with this one allowing the poet to find his way around this jazz fusion inspired sound board.
‘Cosmic Signs’ offers a beautiful build up into an otherworldly secret life. The sound of children playing beneath the heartbeat of the song reminds of the proximity of joy and pleasure. He works in and teases listeners with the levels giving us his ear as a DJ and his golden touch as a producer. With this track and his playful approach to the levels we hear his familiarity with arrangement and even in the song’s simplicity you feel the presence of complexity. The thump in this track is for the seasoned dancer.
‘Shoe Shine Man,’ uses dialogue as an instrument, voices that hint at working class Mississippi Blues men exchanging stories about love and life. A sampled manipulated voice effects serves as the narrator while the conversations persist and the music keeps us in the pocket.
The ‘Unspoken Instrumental’ version brings us back in to the fold without the vocals as we witness the skill of what it takes to send this sound to the same place without the lead voice. It still holds the weight of a collaboration, even though this track and the entire album is programmed and arranged by Osunlade himself. Unspoken takes you ‘around the world in a day.’
‘People First’ speaks to this moment in the world. Music is the weapon of choice that Osunlade uses to navigate hostile terrain, spirituality is the base. The tune offers a brilliant place horns and an sparsely dropped hypnotic gong, whilst people are heard organizing for human rights behind a calming score. This one spells out the depth of the many different color spectrums of his sound and a form of musical hybridity that situates him in the position of one of the masters.
For Osunlade House is a short cut and arguably a limitation considering his range and ability to stretch the genre and the culture. If you allow it, “Dedication” can be the uncategorizable ep that we need to break the mold and grow the art.