WU HEN (KAMAAL WILLIAMS)

RELEASED 24TH JULY 2020

Favourite track: Sweet Dreams

Saxophone, Jazz drum-kit, cinematic strings…a great collection of instrumental songs.

Another artist I had not heard of was British musician, Kamaal Williams, from London who has recently released his 10-track album Wu Hen which I am assuming is a reference to his birth name, Henry Wu. He has been known to produce Jazz, Funk and Garage music so I was keen to give this a listen especially as this would be an instrumental album which I don’t tend to review as much. The cover art appears to be a cloud or mist of deep red, darker in places and more intense in others.

Image credit: Bandcamp

Miguel Atwood-Ferguson features on the opening track ‘Sweet Dreams’ which begins with harp and tremolo strings. A saxophone then enters creating a beautiful, romantic, magical atmosphere. It is absolutely dreamy as the title suggests. There is an audio of a crowd going wild in the background and some cinematic strings to accompany the sax. ‘One More Time’ begins with harsh synths and an audio of men talking randomly which totally contrasts the opening track. The drums kick in – garage style – which creates the speed and drama. The synths then change to a quieter chord structure and then go back to how they were. It has this chaotic retro feel with an 80s sound but also a Rock/Funk/Garage feel mixed with electronics. We do have a little jazz sound come through with what sounds like another sax.

The track then merges an slides into the next, ‘1989’, which includes a lot more orchestral sounds and creates an old school Jazz cinematic atmosphere. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson features on this one again. I like how it ends with 80s soft synths again maintaining a magical feel. Piano opens ‘Toulouse’ which features Atwood-Ferguson again. The Jazz drum-kit comes in too whilst the strings build the tension and drama. It becomes a proper Jazzy song perfect for a summer evening. ‘Pigalle’ opens with staccato piano chords to keep it light and then a real swinging Jazz comes through meaning you can dance to this one. More sax enters to give it that typical romantic feel. This one picks up the pace quite a bit and is less relaxing than the others.

‘Big Rick’ was slightly slower and steadier in pace but incorporated more electronic sounds than the others that provided an 80s, quirky feel. ‘Save Me’ opens with Funk bass guitar, drum kit and magical warped synths that give this track a loose feel. ‘Mr Wu’ open with proper 80s electronic synths that keep starting constantly as they blend into each other. The drum-kit is Jazzy but builds in pace as Funk keys come in. You can definitely move to this one – maybe bop to be honest. Lauren Faith features on ‘Hold On’ to provide the soft, feminine vocals on-top of warped bass, synths and clicks. The harmonies in the background make it romantic, slow, sexy song. The use of a magical harp within the song really adds to this too. The final track ‘Early Prayer’ opens with an audio in a proper London accent as he tells a story about the police – this is kind of a ‘skit’ I think – the audio fades into the background as a dramatic, melancholic saxophone solo comes in on-top of softer synths. It’s deep, mysterious and calms it all right down.

This album is perfect for a night on an open air restaurant as it’s jazzy, romantic and will take you to an older time.