Album Review: Key Change

Mocky —

Key Change (2015)

“A fantasy ride through the underground world of intense cross-genre musical experimentation,” is how a colleague described experiencing a Mocky concert in Munich, back in October. Garnering acclaim from European music critics and a cult-following from adventurous (and not just alternative) music fans everywhere. Mocky, also known as Dominic Salole, hails from the middle of Canada, gained his name in Berlin, and has released music on Japanese, German, French, and Belgian labels. He’s of Somali and English descent, and currently lives in Los Angeles. Perhaps his eclectic history lends to his eccentric music?

If you’ve never heard of Mocky, you’re not too behind. Although you’re definitely not ahead; this is his *fifth* studio album. A musician in the truest sense, along with the music of his own albums, he’s also a writer and producer who’s collaborated with everyone from Feist to Jamie Lidell to Matt Corby. Though his music has been around since the early-2000s, Mocky still remains a bit of a mystery.

“Underground experimental jazz” is how another colleague described the concert, but I’m unsure if that fully encapsulates the essence of what Mocky music is. He’s only sometimes jazz. Sometimes rap. Other times, incredibly weird — we can call this “experimental,” I guess. This is, however, quite different from the flavor of Key Change, which in comparison to his previous albums, is considerably less experimental and more cohesive as an album. Songs in this latest album effortlessly transition from one stripped-jazzy track to another mellow-funk composition. Key Change is much easier to define than In Mesopotamia (2002), and also much easier of a listen. If you’re ironically “looking” for the spontaneity and unexpectedness he’s known for at concerts, take a listen to Graveyard Novelas (The Mixtape Vol. 1) (2013) for a taste. Key Change sounds more like a sequel to Saskamodie (2009). Unfortunately, like many sequels, this one doesn’t have as much of a punch as the last album. Because this album is instrument-and-beat-oriented, and not lyric-oriented, this album is still a great pick for a variety of occasions.

Play this album on a Sunday, I’d suggest any time between mid-morning to late-afternoon. Play this in the car when you’re taking a thoughtful solo drive around the city at night. Play this album in the car when you’re with friends and want to create a groovy vibe, but also want to talk. This creates a nice atmosphere for casual conversation, but isn’t so catchy or known that guests will be singing along. While there are occasional lyrics, it’s probable that none of your friends would know the lyrics. Do I assume too much? Key Change is inoffensive, but far from uninteresting. Despite “Upbeat Thing” as the first track, the album is rhythmic, but not overly upbeat. Smooth, but not too shiny. Perfect music for really hip dentists offices.

This isn’t my favourite album, but I’m a sucker for jazz flute.

Highlights: “Upbeat Thing”, “Soulful Beat”, “Tomorrow Maker”, “Weather Any Storm”, “Hymne (For Murka)

Verdict: 7.8/10

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