Everything feels really serious at the moment. The news is the bleakest it’s ever been. If you concentrate on it for too long everything begins to start to feel a bit too much. We all need an escape. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Luckily, the antidote to all this doom and gloom is at hand in the form of ‘Urban Brew’, the debut album by Isayahh Wuddha.
The album opens with ‘Feel’. Cascading Casio keyboards welcome us before Wuddha’s diaphanous vocals wash over us. The beat is static and retro-sounding. Looking at the cover: it sounds exactly like you’d imagine. The artwork features a painting of Wuddha. He has massive hair, retro sunglasses, a blue shirt and green skinned. Next to him, but upside down, is another version of him. This depiction is slightly darker and more menacing. It seems to suggest that there are not only two sides to the record, but to Wuddha. One is easy going, fun loving; the other is slightly darker and has demons.
As the album progresses there is a distinction between these contrary aspects. ‘Elephant Wave’ and ‘More’ are more upbeat, but ‘Something Blue’ slows things down with its tender, scratchy, guitars and half sung/half spoken lyrics. ‘Ever’ closes the album with gossamer finger plucked guitars. It lies somewhere between traditional Japanese playing and Western folk traditions. And this is what the album really is. A mixture of Eastern melodies and Western production. As ‘Ever’ progresses the music gets more skewed and wonkier.
After a first listen it’s hard to fathom what is going on, other than a love in between Albert Ayler, Damo Suzuki, Western pop, and James Brown. But what is evident is that ‘Urban Brew’ is a lot of fun. After a few more listens, its outsider art charm begins to disappear, and you are left with delicate ballads dancing over intricate lo-fi indie soul.
‘Urban Brew’ is a glorious album that is offers many earworms. At times there are flourishes of Connan Mockasin and Pop Levis’ skewed pop, but this isn’t pastiche. Where Mockasin and Levi sometimes went too far, which could be detrimental to the listening experience, Wuddha is totally measured and in control. Wuddha has his own distinctive sound and voice. He understands his strengths and pushes them for all their worth.
Throughout the recording Wuddha claims he was laughing. This definitely comes across in the music. Unabashed joy permeates from the songs. The keyboards are whimsical, but not annoying. The melodies light, but captivating. The album was created as something Isayahh Wuddha could to sing to while dancing.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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