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June 7th, 2024

A decade on from his breakthrough Boiler Room DJ set, Canadian producer Kaytranada has cemented himself as a dance music powerhouse. His work blends the worlds of underground electronic sounds and mainstream, chart-topping R&B and hip hop, getting him collaboration requests from the likes of Drake and working with Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar. Later this summer, he’ll headline a huge outdoor show London’s All Points East.

‘Timeless’ is his first full length release since 2023’s collaborative album ‘Kaytraminé’, made with rapper Aminé, but it feels like a melting pot of the best ideas from each of his previous releases and acts as a marker of his musical evolution. Instantly this album is met with the charm of his 2016 debut ‘99.9%’ – two step rhythms, groovy keys and body-moving drums guide ‘Spit It Out’ (made with long-timer collaborator Rochelle Jordan) and ‘Call U Up’ (made with Kaytra’s own younger brother Lou Phelps).

His tastefully selected collaborations is what gives this album extra brownie points, maintaining Kaytra’s masterful curatorship seen on ‘Bubba’, his Grammy-winning 2019 album. ‘Timeless’ features the likes of Tinashe (‘More Than A Little Bit’), Childish Gambino (‘Witchy’), PinkPantheress (‘Snap My Finger’), Thundercat (‘Stuntin’). Kaytra is at his best when he uses the strengths of his collaborator’s vocals – whether pairing sharp delivery with a catchy percussive line (‘Do 2 Me’ with Andersoon.Paak and SiR) or using a voice to mark a key change and change the pace of the track (‘Drip Sweat’ with Channel Tres).

The solo tracks are where we see his dexterous production skills sparkle. Opener ‘Pressure’ sounds straight out of a retro futuristic sci-fi film, with blazing synths and cinematic jazz instrumentation. For the first time we also hear Kaytra’s own vocals in ‘Stepped On’, marking a significant change in how we understand him; he’s not just a talented producer but also a thoughtful vocalist.

Timeless’ proves he has mastered the art of chopping and augmenting samples creatively – which he told Rolling Stone was AI-aided. ‘Dance Dance Dance’ is funky and euphoric, led by disco-style keys and a deeply soulful bassline. It uses a cut-up sample of the whirling synths heard in Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s ‘The Message’, giving the otherwise nostalgic sounding track a futuristic twist. ‘Seemingly’ is a house music-style banger sampling  Don Blackman’s yearning ballad ‘Holding You, Loving You’ – making ample room for love to be felt on the dancefloor, the natural home of many of the tracks on ‘Timeless’.

Having such an established sound and musical identity, especially only 8 years after a breakthrough debut album, is an impressive feat. Yet every track being identifiable as a textbook Kaytranada anthem is both the album’s greatest strength and only notable weakness – giving the project subtle predictability. While his signature soulful chord progressions, heavy basslines, genre blending, and the occasional cowbell is pleasing to the ear, and the inclusion of his own vocal work doesn’t go unnoticed,  there is space for greater experimentation.

Yet ‘Timeless’ lives up to its name by proving Kaytranada’s music indeed stands the test of time. This album acts as a bookmark of his creative evolution, and its polished production work makes it a good representation of his musical identity thus far.

Details

  • Release date: June 7, 2024
  • Record label: RCA
This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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