Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Spin: 4Hero "Play With the Changes"

Every now and then it’s good to listen to something different. I haven’t been as successful as I would like at putting forth good music outside of the Hip Hop realm, but today I grabbed a disc off my book shelf that is over flowing with discs I’ve acquired in the last year – 4Hero’s Play With The Changes.

Coming out in 2007, Dego and Marc Mac have been around for years involved heavily in the European electronic music scene and while that influence is obviously in play here they dedicate just as much attention to having a stable of talented musicans on hand creating a beautiful modern fusion record.

While the album is issued as a 4Hero record, it is split between the two partners with Dego taking charge on eight tracks and Marc Mac holding down the production duties for the other seven. Not one combined meeting of talent? I wonder what the story is with that.

Whatever the reason is, it’s a mute point as they both prove they are capable on their own and obviously understand what each other is going to bring to the table. Mixing together a wide array of keyboards, drum machines and live instruments the sound is decidedly electronic tinged with the feel of the freedom you often find in Jazz.

This could come from the inclusion on many tracks of large horn sections being allowed to get busy doing their best Coltrane or Miles impression. Beyond horns, you will hear string sections adding an element of sweeping beauty to select tracks and a number of guests vocalists performing original and old stand bys.

The album’s opening cut “Morning Child” is a pristine example of the cohesion these two talented individuals are able to pull from their crew of instrumentalists. Featuring Carina Anderson on the lyrics, written by Marc Mac, and some great harmonies over the beautiful violins in the background this is how an album should start – put this on as you wake up in the morning, I guarantee it will help your day get started right.

4Hero ft. FACE "Stoke the Fire Up" (Prod. by Dego)

Dego links up with the ever mysterious Jack Davey for “Take My Time” and over a broken beat piano driven track with some chopped guitar added on top she sings in that sultry voice we are all falling in love with. Marc takes it to the NC for a Justus League connection teaming with D. Brock and Phonte for “Give In.”

Not all the tracks are filled with soulful crooning though as Marc hooks up “Sophia” as I’m assuming a tribute track to a special lady of the same name in his life? Whoever she may be, she should feel pretty special having a track this smooth named for her.

The defining moment of the album comes next as Marc sets up an amazing arrangement of “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Need You?)” for Terry Devos to rock, and rock he does. Laying it down as if it were his own, nothing will ever touch the wonderful original, but for 2007 this is something special not to be ignored!

4Hero ft. Terry Devos "Superwoman" (Prod. by Marc Mac)

And while I’ve chosen to ignore much of the work from Dego here (I won’t lie, I do prefer Marc’s more soulful approach) it isn’t to be overlooked. His style is much more in line with the electronic scene these two emerged out of in the 90s, but it is obvious he is attempting to push his sound into the next realm laying down some of the best broken beat styled music I’ve heard done. On top of his skills, he has an ear for the right vocalists for his tracks bringing Bembe Segue in for “Something in the Way” and utilizing the silky vocal tones of Lady Alma for the refreshing splash “Sink or Swim.”

If you like your music blended across genres and never fully stepping into any one style this album is sure to impress, but it may also impress those who miss their old soul music and crave for an updated sound – 4Hero is your key to the soul of the future.

Bonus web only video: 4Hero ft. Ursula Rucker "The Awakening"

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