Originally published for The Skinny March 2017 issue.
Album title: Digging A Tunnel
Artist: sir Was
Label: City Slang
Release date: 10 Mar
Previously a professional jazz saxophonist, sir Was has travelled the world performing in several ensembles, picking up a range of musical influences as he went along; all of which have helped to form the sonic landscape of his debut album Digging A Tunnel.
Once upon a time, many would have filed sir Was’ music under the category ‘chillwave’, but to call it that would be to do it a disservice. Incorporating different themes, sounds and textures from a variety of genres and playing almost every instrument you hear on the album, Was’ debut shows an artist with an ear for making the seemingly inaccessible accessible.
Opening with lead single In the Midst, you are thrown straight into Was’ world of funky, soulful electronica, merging its pop chorus and melody seamlessly with its rap verses and unique instrumentation. From then on, intriguing sounds from far and wide appear all over the album, including bagpipes on A Minor Life and a harmonica on Bomping – both taken from recordings on Was’ iPhone. The bagpipes might not make much sense, but the harmonica is a welcome addition to Bomping’s bluesy rhythms, giving it an extra gritty, Southern feel.
Despite the obvious Tame Impala similarities, sir Was manages to carve out his own brand of psychedelic pop on Digging A Tunnel, leaning more towards funk, soul and hip-hop than classic psych-rock. Plus, you’ve got to hand it to him for trying to make bagpipes happen.
Listen to: Falcon, Interconnected