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Jazz act BADBADNOTGOOD 'Talk Memory' is brilliantly produced, refined

BADBADNOTGOOD's latest project, "Talk Memory," demonstrates the experimental jazz group's best production and orchestration abilities. – Photo by Badbadnotgood / Instagram

BADBADNOTGOOD is a jazz-inspired jam band who has inspired a multitude of popular artists. Since its inception at Humber College in 2010, they have been on the forefront of improvisational jazz compositions, and their songs combine beautiful chord progressions with hip-hop and jazz influenced collaborations.

Their collaborations with Tyler, the Creator helped to propel both of their careers, and their song “Time Moves Slow” exploded in popularity on TikTok. Their latest album, “Talk Memory” is a dive into ambient jazz and experimental music, and features like Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai and jazz drummer Karriem Riggins signify this change in artistic pace. 

"Talk Memory" is their most compositionally complex record to date, but it still has their textbook rhythms and lush arrangements. “Signal From The Noise” opens the album with ambient and industrial sounds until a quiet piano riff eventually emerges from the shadows. This structure is a clear homage to Miles Davis’ experimental period in the 1970s, and as the performance evolves so do the band’s ambitions and arrangements.

“City of Mirrors” features Verocai, who adds an army of string instruments to the mix. Verocai’s orchestral compositions are known for being grand and romantic in their scope, and he adds harmonic tension to BADBADNOTGOOD's usually smooth melodies. The strings and the drums work together to create emotional weight, and there are sections that sound straight out of a Disney movie. It loses none of its authenticity and instead feels like a natural upgrade from their previous work.

“Unfolding (Momentum 73)” starts with an electric zither played by Laraaji, which adds beautiful atmospheric textures as a saxophone does rhythmic arpeggios for most of the first 2 minutes. The drums emerge 2 and a half minutes into the song, and amps up in sync with the saxophone and zither. Atmosphere and melody takes priority over structure, which leaves this song feeling especially dreamlike and captivating.

“Timid, Intimidating” is 1 of 2 songs with no features credited, and it sounds like the most traditional song on the album. Flutes, Wurlitzers and guitars guide the melodies through different landscapes, and the mood of this song feels like they’re unafraid to spread their wings rhythmically. At 6 minutes long, instruments filter in and out of the song, but it never loses its groove or feels like its falling apart. 

BADBADNOTGOOD’s collaborations have always felt like an extension of their band as well as an amalgamation of their styles. Riggins drumming on “Beside April (Reprise)” adds pronounced percussion to the mix, and sets the stage for the instrumental solos that dance as the track progresses.

An electric guitar slowly becomes more distorted as it dances with the drums, and each part of the song stays for just as long as it needs to. Unlike most of their previous albums, the songs on "Talk Memory" feel like they have a distinct beginning, middle and end. For a jazz-inspired improvisational band, this is a rare feat which only adds to their musicality. Instead of delivering what their fans expect, they go in a different direction with unexpected results.

"Talk Memory" speaks as a homage to BADBADNOTGOOD's inspirations and as a testament to how far the band has come. It marks the first time their songs have felt more like compositions instead of jamming, and by diving into structure they’re able to show their musical prowess in different ways.

At eight tracks long, the average track length is 5 minutes. Their longer compositions take a melody and expand on it using different instruments, and this album contains some of their finest orchestration to date. Fans of BADBADNOTGOOD will undoubtedly love this album, and fans of experimental jazz will greatly appreciate the musical moments presented all throughout this album.

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