Released just a couple of weeks after the spring equinox, Issac Aesiliʻs sophomore release unfurls before a turbulent planet with the elegant poise of jejune lilies budding for the first time.
Hidden Truths (Bastard Jazz) was recorded with New Zealand’s top-tier groove masters, including in-demand feature vocalists Ladi6 and Rachel Fraser. Aesili, Lord Echo bandmember and world-renowned musician on both trumpet and percussion, takes us through a good-good-feeling digital soul journey, that squiggles its way through jazz, funk, R&B, and house music with self-assured aplomb.
Donʻt count on me to tell you his production aesthetic fuses Afro and Latin styles with hip-hop and electronic music. Let your ears do the heaving lifting. “Realms”—a killer dance floor lil-bit-o-everything slab five songs in, is the first real sign that weʻve got a stand-out project on our hands. As with the work of New Zealand contemporary Julien Dyne (Teal from 2018 still bumps), we get 808 programming and live drumming fused into one cohesive entity. A champion sound with the majestic swing. Itʻs lined up with keen execution merging techno, house, and low slung bass tones, converting this five-minute number into a must repeat choon fer days. And that breakdown in the middle? Filthy.
“Steps,” a 7-minute workout, the climax of the record, is yet another blueprint displaying the shrewdness Aesilli has in designing grand dance tunes that never feel “too extra.” It starts out economical with voice, hand-drumming, and Rhodes organ colors and by the end we are rolling, awash in plush synths, expanded bass-lines and soaring vocal enhancements. There is a sensation of a simplified Fred P-type of arrangement at work here, that allows so many varying access points for the uninitiated. Hidden Truths further indicates New Zealand remains a fertile region making electronic compositions that hit fresh and emote clearly.