We all picture producers to be meticulous perfectionists. Digging and repeating tracks over and over, again and again. Striving to find exactly what they hear in their head. The quest for perfection could drive some mad but most of the time, to mediocrity. It’s often a fruitless pursuit. In essence it’s a search, which is why the name ‘Telemachus’ is so fitting.
Telemachus directly translated means ‘far from battle’. The name relates to a tale in Greek mythology where a boy goes searching for news about his father during the Trojan War. Although the premise of this story relates to the travels of a young boy, ‘In the evening’ takes you on Telemachus’ journey – one rich and immersive.
Despite the inherit difficultly of a production-based album; there’s something about this work that comes across with ease. From the moment ‘In the evening’ drops. It doesn’t grab your attention, no – Chemo’s alias is much more subtler. Instead he persuades it, building an understated atmosphere, moving effortlessly from entrancing movements, elevating melodies through to disconcerting tones.
With the first stanza echoing DJ Shadow’s Entroducing, the early portion of the album is characterized by layers of instrumentals. Seen in the bouncing drums of Tennis Season and the hazy-horns of Planet Earth. Yet the movement after this breaks into a gust of Egyptian pipes in Trivandum’ following on from an upbeat layover in reggae with The Light. At times, it has the slickness and suavity of the ocean’s gang 11 on acid.
The second half of the album incites more of the toil of the journey. Through the desert-infused tracks of lonesome wandering to the accomplishment of Grey Skies before the reflective vibrations of Ferndale Road. With both Rose Petals and the Roc Marciano featured Scarecrows helping you heed warnings of the troubles along the way. Crucially, Telemachus is confident enough in his abilities to not stack the bill with big names, instead he uses features sparingly and to builds with them, not around them.
‘on this mountain road, vultures overhead I’m counting the crows’. Jehst – The Sheltering Sky
There’s a dark vitality to a lot of the tracks, when things start to get upbeat it seems there’s always something lurking on the horizon. But where most instrumental albums get too convoluted, Telemachus is comfortable enough to emphasize sounds without overworking the feel of tracks. Whilst making sure it doesn’t sound overproduced; the subtleties of the album are its strength.
His previous work leading up to ‘In The Evening’ featured everything from Ethiopian dancehall singers, Lee Fields, the Dixie cups, Jefferson airplane, to J Dilla and The Doors (to name but a few). Overall, the eclectic mix of sounds triumphantly return. It’s one of the few things you’ll listen to and fell like it was over too quickly. With beats creeping up and disappearing you feel like something you were trying to catch has just slipped through your fingers.
It’s engaging, but more importantly in today’s age, it’s innovative. Hip-Hop has always drawn influences from every corner of the musical cosmos. But it’s seldom seen that so much from so many places is brought together without disharmony. Only then to masterfully toy with the atmosphere throughout the album without causing audible offence – incredible.
Ultimately, Telemachus’ ‘In the evening’ entrances you like medusa, has the strength of Hercules and the craft of Odysseus without the Achilles heels of most instrumental albums. Telemachus has sculpted something to satisfy the turntable-nerd, the passive listener and the inattentive hip-hop head. What he’s created with ‘in the evening’ may be influenced by mythology, but it sounds like magic. If Telemachus the myth is the journey of a boy becoming a man, Telemachus’ latest work is the journey of a producer becoming a wizard.
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Review by Danny Hill @