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Mark de Clive-Lowe - 'CHURCH'

Alex Marianyi
Contributing Writer
alex.marianyi[at] / @alexmarianyi

This crowd-funded release, the 11th studio album for Mark de Clive-Lowe, does NOT play around. He named it after the live event he has been presenting in New York City and Los Angeles since 2011, and from composition to production, a live feel makes itself apparent throughout.

It has all of those qualities you love about club music, the beat and the party, and all of those qualities you love about jazz, improvisation and spontaneous creativity. In many respects, the abilities required to effectively DJ live are very similar to the abilities required to effectively perform an improvised solo, change it up enough to keep it interesting but don’t change it so much that it sounds incoherent. Whether as separate entities or doing them in tandem, Mark de Clive-Lowe does both effectively, a testament to his overall music IQ.

CHURCH begins with a cut that shows off all of his talents: composition, sampling, hip-hop production, and general musicianship. Both within and between tracks, transitions on an album like this can make or break it, and de Clive-Lowe pulls you in and out of his musical stream of consciousness without making a ripple in the water. His trademark tastefulness is evident in every crevice. The use of just enough vocals, the brief moments where it almost gets too weird before snapping back to reality, and the inclusion of some fairly heavy jazz composition all point to a refined sense of style developed over two decades of touring and collaborating.

Part of what makes the beats on this album so intense is the raw ingredients. On a majority of the tracks, Nate Smith is on drums, and that in and of itself is enough to make any recording a headbobber. Add to that de Clive-Lowe’s own intimate knowledge of jazz being applied to sampling and looping, and you have a recipe for some very deep, sophisticated grooves. However, this is still electronic music; so, those deep, sophisticated grooves make you want to get on the dancefloor.

Without tritely regurgitating any one influence, Mark de Clive-Lowe remains true to his inspirations for this album and succinctly delivers a genre mashing gem. Set to blow minds for a long time to come, CHURCH represents the best of a pianist/DJ/producer’s attempt to reconcile disparate worlds into one artistic statement.

Alex Marianyi does weird music stuff sitting in his living room and is DJ Analytics in the Chicago-based hip-hop group Bellum. You can follow him on Twitter, and he won’t even file a restraining order.