During his few short years in Tokyo, UK musician and producer Aroop Roy energized the jazz-funk/broken beats scene with parties like Culture and Exposure and a compilation, Absolute!!: Sounds From Tokyo, that shone a light on emerging Japanese producers.
Now, after time spent in New York and London, Roy is returning with a new album in hand. “Nomadic Soul is a collection of tunes I started a few years back whilst working as a teacher in the Japanese countryside, and continued to work on in Tokyo,” he writes from London. “I had always been more of a musician than producer, but gradually got into producing. From a fairly young age, I have listened to a really wide range of music. I got into jazz, funk and soul as a teenager in my home town, Brighton, and developed an interest in electronic music as a student in London. The album has a lot of dance elements, whilst having many song-based tracks, so hopefully it will go beyond any particular club music scene.”
Nomadic Soul launches in with the wry reflections of “Lonely Years,” featuring sultry Toronto diva Sacha Williamson. It’s a propulsive dancefloor anthem underpinned by a greasy synth bass line, but with jazz-funk orchestration that recalls the likes of The Brand New Heavies.
Elsewhere, London soul artist Lyric L brings melodies and lyrical flow to broken beats outing “Step Back,” while US rapper Replife deftly charts a course through the syncopated hip-hop of “Stand Up.” UK jazz singer Sarah Winton closes the album with a subtle performance on the contemplative “Lilly,” but before that there is time for Roy to make his own vocal and guitar contributions on numbers like the torch song “Too Long.”
Championed worldwide by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Roy will also be in good company in Japan. His monthlong Nomadic Soul tour includes pairings with Toshio Matsuura (ex-UFO) and the influential Kyoto Jazz Massive collective—the impresarios behind the Tokyo Crossover Jazz Festival—at their venerable Shibuya club, The Room.
Tokyo Jazz Meeting Special, Especial Records Session. Jazz, house: DJs Aroop Roy, Yoshihiro Okino, etc. Sep 4, from 10pm, ¥2,500 w/1d. Shibuya. Tel: 03-3461-7167. www.theroom.jp
Raise Up. DJ Aroop Roy and more. Sep 9, price/time TBA. Shibuya. Tel: 03-5485-4011. www.axxcis.net
Nomadic Soul is available on Freestyle/P-Vine.