Review: BADBADNOTGOOD – Talk Memory

It’s about time I get to cover these guys here, and a good time to introduce them to any newcomers here. BADBADNOTGOOD is an instrumental production team, often associated with jazz and hip-hop, from Toronto founded by bassist Chester Hansen, keyboardist Matthew Tavares, and drummer Alexander Sowinski. Founded in 2010 with Leland Whitty joining them in 2016, the trio has a fondness for hip-hop acts, especially the likes of MF DOOM and Odd Future as they started off doing covers of their songs. Funnily enough, later on they would work with a lot of hip-hop artists like Odd Future, Mick Jenkins, Kendrick Lamar, RZA, a collab album with Ghostface Killah (Sour Soul), and worked with other artists like Charlotte Day Wilson, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Samuel T. Herring, Kali Uchis, and Little Dragon among others.

In fact, if you also remember the Adult Swim trend on Tiktok from a while back, the song “Running Away” from VANO 3000 samples their song “Time Moves Slow” featuring Samuel T. Herring from their previous album IV.

5 years later, they have announced their fifth solo studio album and the first one without Tavares, who left the band in 2019. This is also an album where there aren’t any vocal features on. It’s mostly provisional work with guest instrumentalists like Karriem Riggins and Arthur Verocai among others. Now the question here is: will this album have people like me and others talking and remembering it fondly?

That answer is yes. In fact, it’s a hell yes. With only 8 tracks clocking in 42 minutes, it manages to deliver some beautiful and satisfying music throughout. The style overall has a hypnotic orchestral sound from front to back. It starts off with “Signal from the Noise,” and the way it all builds up is fantastic, with the piano, bass, and the tinny, quiet sound as the guitar increases that intensity only to then quiet back down with the percussion that also builds up with the wild, driving force before slowing down. Then, with “Unfolding (Momentum 73)”, the saxophone takes center stage with the way it gets played in an experimental yet still orchestral way. “Beside April” and “Love Proceeding” have the most stunning presentation in how they begin, especially with the latter’s orchestral sounds in the beginning and, in both cases, how the progressions sound so beautiful going from one section to the next.

“Timid, Intimidating” delivers highly, oozing with the jazziest sounds like you’re in a chase scene, and “Talk Meaning” is a perfect closer for the album as it easily gets very intense before slowing on a calmer note.

BADBADNOTGOOD throughout their career the past decade has shown their love of hip-hop and jazz intertwined from doing covers to working with said hip-hop artists with their own unique production style. Here, they’re flexing more of their jazz muscles while working with various composers, as Arthur Verocai was a major contributor to the instrumental work. This is just a beyond stellar project they’ve done, crafting an exquisite album that carries a lot of highs and could be another contender for my album of the year.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. Well, this got me talking and I want to remember it for the rest of my life.

TALK MEMORY is on XL Recordings/Innovative Leisure and available on physical format (CD, Vinyl, Cassette), digital download and streaming platforms. Links to buy from their own store site and their Bandcamp.

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