THIS IS FUTURE MUSIC. An album as rich and diverse as the history of its players, Universal Beings is the culmination of concepts originally fleshed out in McCraven’s 2015 breakout album In The Moment (out on International Anthem), in which Makaya culled, cut, & re-composed free improvisation performances recorded over the previous year to make something entirely unique. This process of 'organic beat music' is honed to a narrower set of source material for Universal Beings: intimate live sessions recorded in New York, Chicago, London, and Los Angeles, each locale composed of a different line-up of top-tier musicians. While this double LP features four different bands recorded in four different studios playing four (often more) wildly different musical styles, it still sounds like one cohesive album. Makaya's ability to draw out these disparate sessions into one cohesive 'Epic' (to draw from fellow peer Kamasi Washington) shows a new, forward way of thinking about live musical improvisation.
The musicians throughout the album are all formidable in their own right and play key roles in shaping the sound and texture of each side, so I feel obliged to list all the players as a testament to their skill. They include Brandee Younger, Joel Ross, Tomeka Reid, Dezron Douglas, Shabaka Hutchings, Junius Paul, Nubya Garcia, Ashley Henry, Daniel Casimir, Josh Johnson, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Jeff Parker, Anna Butterss, and Carlos Nino. While this album contains a plethora of musical influences, its ability to look towards the possibilities of the future of 'in the moment' improvisation are what will make this album a classic. Tracks to check out include: 'Young Genius', 'Black Lion', 'Mantra', 'Atlantic Black', 'Wise Man, Wiser Woman', 'Voila', 'Turtle Tricks', 'The Fifth Monk', and 'Brighter Days Beginning'. Though that said, you'd be hard-pressed to find a weak song on the album. Recommended.
- 2 LP inside heavyweight reverse-board gatefold jacket
- includes 4-page insert booklet, obi strip
- record label: International Anthem Recording Company 2018
reviewed by RBG 12/2018