EP Review: Blake Reyes – Vernacular

The Breakdown

...A solid double...

The ‘Axis Jazz’ series continues with Milan based Blake Reyes. The album was recorded in 3 different cities including the legendary “Officine Meccaniche“ studio in Milan (Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Erika Badhu), engineered by Taketo Gohara and with attendance of Jeff Mills during all sessions. The Steinway & Sons Grand Piano recorded for the album is the same Duke Ellington played in 1963 when he worked there on his „The Symphonic Ellington“ album.

Blake Reyes (aka BLAKE, Will Blake) is an Italian producer, sound designer and DJ based in Milan and Ibiza. He has released his works on labels such as the Chicago cult TRAX Records (2017) and Rebirth Records (2018). As a producer Blake Reyes gives emphasis on warm sounds coming from his tapes, samplers, drum machines and analogue synthesizers. In 2019, he launched his label Triton Records. This brand clearly reflects his in-depth knowledge of the Detroit techno scene and his mission to reinterpret that original sound through his own spirit and soul to restore a close-knit music community between Detroit and Milan, which roots can be found back in the 1980’s.

The musical research, inspirations and references behind the album can be found in my love for Detroit Techno, electronic music and Jazz. including the songs of some great Italian Jazz composers as well as the Italian opera for the drama and the intensity of the sentiments that I have recreated through the intensity of the string parts“. – Blake Reyes

Check out: At Night (Ext. Mix)

The album is personally overseen by Jeff Mills, and is part of the ‘Axis Jazz’ collection.This confirms the eclecticism and versatility of both Axis and Blake Reyes, through harmony and rhythm, cultural influences, and the right touch of fusion: characteristics that have always defined jazz.

‘Vernacular’ is an album that draws from jazz, Detroit techno and funk. It evokes operatic work due to its aspiration to create strong emotional intensity. The album features a blend of acoustic instruments such as acoustic bass, acoustic and electronic guitars, and the Steinway & Sons Grand Piano – the same Duke Ellington played in 1963 when he recorded „The Symphonic Ellington“ album – alongside electronic instruments including drum machines and Roland synths.

“I titled the album ‚Vernacular‘ because I focused solely on production and sound quality, drawing inspiration from vernacular art, as a self-taught and artisanal approach in the noblest sense of the term“Blake Reyes explains. „The musical references can primarily be found in Jeff Mills and his Millsart project, and more broadly in the works of composers like Bruno Nicolai, Piero Umiliani, Piero Piccioni, Brian Bennett, John Cameron, and even Raymond Scott. For the lyrics of the track ‚At Night,‘ the visual reference that inspired the lyrics can be traced back to certain paintings by Henri Rousseau, particularly ‚The Dream,‘ ‚The Snake Charmer,‘ and ‚Sleeping Gypsy.‘ All of this was done in post-production, working alongside Jeff Mills: a wonderful experience, a continuous flow and exchange of ideas.“

Verdict: A short Jazz piano riff intro leads us to a cool bouncing bass line with rolling beats and a guitar that lays down some seriously smooth licks. All this combined with the lush vocals from Anna Bassy and its a sure fire groover entitled ‘At Night‘. Instrumental and Acapella versions are included (which is a bonus) and also a more Latin infused original version. Switching over to part two of the release and we are off with ‘Dreamer‘ a jazzy roller that just floats away on a flute-synth and guitar jam session. ‘Sound Manifesto’ drops all the percussion to lay down a spaced out melancholic piano and acoustic guitar adventure, while on the flip ‘Love Lies‘ is another slice of bliss which rolls with the unmistakable classic Detroit techno percussive sound, highlighted wonderfully on the stripped down minimal version. A solid double EP vinyl release from Blake Reyes on Axis Records.

Musicians: Dario Lutrino: piano, Stefano Brandoni: guitar, Niccolò “Bolla” Bonavita: bass, Anna Bassy: singer, Blake Reyes: drum machines and synthesizers.

Track List:

  1. At Night (Extended Mix)
  2. At Night (Vocal Acapella)
  3. At Night (Acid Bass Instrumental)
  4. At Night (Original Instrumental)
  5. The Dreamer (Original Mix)
  6. Sound Manifesto (Original Mix)
  7. Love Lies (Original Mix)
  8. Love Lies (Minimal Version)

Available Now @ https://www.axisrecords.com/product/blake-reyes-vernacular-double-vinyl/

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