Djesse (vol. 1) – Jacob Collier (2018)

I’d been waiting for this album ever since the magical experience I had during Jacob’s concert with the Metropole Orchestra at the Proms in Royal Albert Hall last summer. Tracks 4-9 were performed at that concert, and they sound just as good here.

There are two beautiful ballads; #4 that sounds almost like it would have been from Laura Mvula’s debut album (and also features her on vocals), and my favourite #9 which sounds like a reharmonised and orchestrated jazz standard, and finishes beautifully with a four chord vamp. There are two nicely jazzed-up covers, one of Sting and one of Lionel Richie, the latter featuring vocal group Take 6. Then we have the waltz-like title track #5, which is actually in 4/4, and the east/west-fusion #6 featuring a Moroccan vocal/percussion ensemble.

The biggest surprises here though, are the first three tracks. #1 is a choir piece that sounds like it could have been written by a modern classical composer. It leads over to #2 which starts with vocoder and transitions to Disney-like orchestral music, which leads to #3 that is a speedy journey through numerous music genres; ambient orchestral, jazz/fusion, folk music, disco/funk, trap beat and heavy neo-soul, finishing with a simplistic section with only vocals, celesta and some ambience.

It took me a few listens to get into the music, but after that I couldn’t stop listening. For those who think this is a bit too much, hold out until the folkish, more sparse volume 2 comes in June, which is also a beautiful side of Jacob!