Album Review : Basile Petite & Drew Wynen – On s’amuse : Broken beat sophistication from the nu-jazz duo.

The Breakdown

There’s a smooth, easy running trans-European vibe pulsing through 'On s’amuse' - inventive nu jazz music, fizzing with hip hop fluidity and broken beat grooves.
Root Records 8.7

Now here are two musicians stepping out from the world of sessions and band membership to spotlight their own soundscape. Basile Petite’s past associations include Earl Thomas and Todd Sharpville while Drew Wynen currently plays with Crystal Fighters and Ellie Goulding, but it’s their music made as a partnership that is beginning to rustle up attention. After a couple of tracks emerged from the duo late last year Petite & Wynen have gathered these up, added some new tunes and now deliver an EP ‘On s’amuse‘, available via Root Records from 3rd March.

Listening to the freshness and effortless panache of their debut collection it’s clear that this is a collaboration that works. There’s a smooth, easy running trans-European vibe pulsing through On s’amuse drawn from their starting points (Petite originates from Caen, France and Wynen from Switzerland) and developed in their adopted London home. The release feels like it represents their combined journey so far, inventive nu jazz music, fizzing with hip hop fluidity and broken beat grooves.

The pair’s most played cut from their recent single releases L’Auto filteur sensibly gets the nod to start up the EP, purring as it does with self-assurance. The burbling bass and well-oiled guitar chops provide the smooth flow, an unhurried momentum with a knowing sway. It showcases the strength of Petite and Wynen the instrumentalists, at the root of all this inventive production it’s the player in them that makes On s’amuse stand out.

There are two previously unheard tunes amongst the EP’s five tracks which, besides revealing a liking for quirky care-free titles, show the partnership continuing to extend their range. Tapir & Pomme De Pin hunkers down with some snuffling jazz funk, husky horizontal sax and twinkling synth highlights. Slightly melancholy in a misty kind of way the deft touches, where the tune pulls away through some distant reverb, keep you on your toes. Perhaps Melon & Friandises is more distinctive. As soon as the breathy scat counts in those sultry afro-cuban rhythms, you know there is something classy going on. From bumping Bahia funk to prog jazz sax lines, weaving synth trills to singing flutes, this is a heady, multi layered experience. Lush yes, but not over lush.

Initially released this February, the summery Jour Soleil has still managed to make a considerable dent on those streaming platforms. So just imagine what this sun-soaked nu-soul hustle is going to do as we get close to the warmer months of 2023. Of all the tracks on the EP this revolves around a sparkling melodic pattern, one which loops and curls through a mid-tempo haziness. It’s a trippy, lazy days stroll given extra pep by the nimble-fingered guitar interplay with the brass-toned synth.

But perhaps the skittering house stepper that is Grosse Soirée represents the peak of this increasingly uplifting collection. It may start with a woozy stretch but as the deep bass throb gathers you know that the big night is coming and it sure does. There are moments here, when Petite’s spiralling bass line merges with Wynen’s high tension chord flicks, which just can’t be resisted.

Of course there are clear reference points for On s’amuse. Brownswood and Brainfeeder, early Emma Jane Thackray and the seminal Yussef Kamaal all spring to mind as does the more recent jazz-pop explorations of Oscar Jerome or Tom Misch. Still these are early days for the Petite & Wynen collaboration and the signs are their trajectory is looking skywards. They share what Drew Wynen calls a ‘why not energy’ plus a real musical chemistry for extra thrust. Here’s to the full works…

Get your copy of ‘On s’amuse’ by Basile Petite & Drew Wynen from BANDCAMP

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