Built on a firm foundation of years playing together and a collective love of experimentation and improvisation, this is something special...

London based jazz outfit Nérija have just released a debut album that’s great from the first listen, but when played regularly and often, the record soon becomes even more rewarding, even comforting.

‘Blume’, is built on a firm foundation of years playing together and a collective love of experimentation and improvisation. The septet met and cut their teeth at Tomorrow’s Warriors, an innovative jazz music education and artist development organisation, but it wasn’t until they started playing out that things started to kick into place.

Their debut full-length album, ‘Blume’, incorporates motifs from hip-hop, afrobeat, township music, European classical as well as soul, to create something that sounds simultaneously timeless and contemporary. Part of the project’s charm is down to its producer kwes: space is a huge factor on ‘Blume’ and kwes helps create a tight, but uncluttered, vibe so Nérija have space to let the songs breath and grow. And this is what ‘Blume’ is really about - the air between the notes and phrases.

Opening track ‘Nascence’ excels at this. Sheila Maurice-Grey, Rosie Turton and Lizy Exel all deliver solos that demonstrate firstly how well they can play, and secondly how they aren’t messing about. Instead of rigid claustrophobic compositions that give the players little room for experimentation producer kwes manages to capture the rawness of those early recordings, whilst adding warm tones and a feeling of togetherness to them.

Kwes is no stranger to the band, as he re-mixed their debut EP after signing for Domino. All the performances were recorded live with little in way of overdubs and post-production trickery, and this comes across - the album feels like it was recorded in one continuous session. This really pays off as the individual players have space to experiment and improvise. ‘Swift’ features two such solos from Lizy Excell and Cassie Kinoshi.

‘Blume’ is the kind of album that you can get lost in, if you let it, but don’t fight against its natural flow . At this stage of their career Nérija are a solid and virtuosic group, who have delivered two pretty flawless releases in less than three years. If this is what they are capable of now, imagine them when it comes time to make their next album. And that’s something to get very excited about.

8/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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