Album Review: Tenderlonious – Hard Rain

Tenderlonious is essentially the project of London producer, jazz flautist/saxophone head and 22a label owner Ed Cawthorne. Under this moniker though he makes jazz infused house music aiming, by his own admission for the likes of Omar S, Theo Parrish, Glen Astro taking inspiration from J Dilla, Blaze and Carl Craig. His new album Hard Rain is out on his own 22a label.

But it’s not really any of those things. The Dilla influence may come from the fact that over half of the tracks only just nudge (one way or another) two minutes, but whereas on Donuts Dilla said what the had to say, on Hard Rain Cawthorne doesn’t try to – instead hinting and brushing over it, giving you an push in the direction he wants you instead of being explicitly shown.

Neither does it have, or seem to want, the dancefloor heavy beats of some of the other influences, but what Tenderlonious does have is skill. He’s able to weave and texture his beats and pieces, threading not only his jazz influences, but also samples (the flute interjections on the bubbling, almost dizzying Detroit house of Aesop Thought is one of the albums real highlights) and spinning in some of the club influences to make something that is more than electronic background noise, but something that has to be sat down and listened to keenly.

As such though, the more substantial tracks are the ones that hold the album together. The wonky piano funk of opener Casey Jr, with its woozy but fractured bassline and this sparse but telling percussive beats is a winner, as is the warm house of the title track.

It’s the albums most weighty track that really holds onto you though, Another State of Conciousness clocking in at the wrong side of seven minutes really allowing Cawthorne’s creativity and spontaneity run riot over this incredible blistering synth line that warps and morphs as it goes.

There’s a lot right about Tenderlonious’ Hard Rain album. His inventive and at times brilliant scope for bringing strands and ideas and melodic fragments together to make something whole makes it an enjoyable and at times thrilling record.

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