Being Waves is one of the best albums of the year and, dare I say, the best nu-jazz album of this year.

Release date: September 17, 2021 | Running Circle | Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify

I vividly recall audibly scoffing at the sight of the band’s name, thinking it will be some pretentious exercise of sounds without any actual depth. To my unending surprise, not only did I discover that Kinkajous are actual critters (very cute too), but also that the band’s new album is simply amazing. I love it when I’m proven wrong like this and I could use more of it. The London-based act are now at their third album, and it seems that they are on par with other top tier representatives of the genre from their homeland. This also makes me wonder how much more great jazz can the UK produce.

Anyway, onto Being Waves, right? I was immediately sold while barely passing halfway through the first song. It’s so incredibly rare that this happens that I just couldn’t stop grinning across the entire time the album was playing. Speaking of that: “Convolution” is not only an incredibly strong starting point for a record, but the way it breaks into its velvety stream of sounds around the 72-second mark left me speechless, more so with what ensued. I think I looped this song at least a dozen times before I got the urges out of my system and managed to move on with the rest of the record.

It would’ve been truly awe-inspiring had the record been comprised of similarly hard-hitting moments all around, but that borders on monotony and Kinkajous are having none of that. I am also more than content with the directions and amplitudes taken by the tunes throughout the record. Another thing that caught me wholly off guard was the emotional profoundness of the music as it unfurled before me. I can’t think of a single album that is able to be so smooth, laid-back, and deep. There’s also something of a playful (ludic) quality to the performance, which further adds to the never-before-seen checklist.

The kind of nigh-ontological level of depth encountered is one that is rare, generally speaking, in music – let alone in this genre. I’d go far enough to say it’s somewhat transcendental. It makes me ponder things while being relaxed and detached. It also keeps me fully engaged in the sonic experience. I’m still flummoxed by how this was achieved, but I guess it’s just one of those things you don’t have to understand, you just have to believe.

Stylistically, the record creates an organic, almost monolithic blend of sparkling and ethereal electronics, infectious grooves, and ravishing swells from jazz, while topping it off with ambient elements. Nothing that I haven’t seen before, at least on paper, but the mix is executed very well and it doesn’t fall short on whatever expectations may arise from that description. I guess it’s kind of needless to say that the production value is simply stellar, and anything I’d further add would make it feel superfluous on my end.

Being Waves is something you need to immerse yourself into fully if you want to experience the full extent of its magic. This isn’t something to dig into half-heartedly. It also wouldn’t be fair to the music to do it any other way. It’s a highly rewarding journey for those who embark on it the proper way, and at the end, all it does is beg you to do it again, and you reflexively comply to the plea. Kinkajous know exactly how to do music the right way.

Robert Miklos

Robert Miklos

What can I say? I love slapping keys and listening to squiggly air.

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