Review: Omari Jazz — ‘Dream Child’

Portland’s Omari Jazz’s instrumental collages work in tandem, albeit paradoxically. His glacially dense beats watershed frenetic grooves into rich ambient swells. Jazz’s serendipitous, 23-track Addendums (released in March) achieved new meaning as COVID-19 quarantining took effect. It’s blissed out 60+ minutes, meandered and bathed as a necessary soundtrack to our collective waiting. Jazz’s masterful combo of outtakes, remixes, and old beats, surprisingly held hands with the zeitgeist. 

Dream Child (released early June) parcels an adjacent mix of clanked, natural hummed and crushed pocket hip-hop calling to mind the expanding ambience of Dedekind Cut and sweeping samples of Knxwledge. Here, Jazz’s canvas sprints into uniformity.

At under 23 minutes, Jazz’s spun loopings are notably shorter but more curious. While Addendum’s flawless first half grasped intimacy and immersed listeners in a small space with stretched possibilities, Dream Child’s fantasmic natural and synthetic realms drift through Jazz’s digitized dream catcher with a stunning succinctness. 

The smooth brick and mortar foundation, opening with “Cadence!”, nudges listeners to the dots leftover from Addendums’ finale, “StayinUp (Sleeping In)”, where questions of dreaming cleverly springboard into “Cadence!”. Sounds of harp and stardust greet, followed by the elemental wash of Dolphin Midwives’ baptismal presence on “Little Web”. The title track swivels ambiently in nature and is soothed by chanting looped voices. “Ur Worth” spurts funk, heavy breath, toy instruments, and sleepy ambience. “Kindling” links of spry R&B slapped bass and robotic shifting recalling the best garnishes on Addendums

The shortest track, “GodBodyCharge”, kicks off a series of brief, but solidifying encounters with larger than life myths (“Atlas”) and philosophy (“Prana”). Sanskrit for ‘life force’, ‘prana’ resonates throughout Dream Child, yet Jazz resists the temptation of hermitage or new age distractions. No matter how contemplative and reserved, the record nods to activism and pride, as “Melanated” snapshots and dates the current racial flux in America. While felt less in direct construction, its soothing float provides unwavering awareness before the beat drop on “Our Taproot”. Here, Jazz materializes his focus into a tangible symbol of solidarity before “River” trickles through his dreamscape, with wisps of melody and submersion. 

Closing out an album soaked in brevity and by dedicated, conscious breaths, “Aware” coin drops and pivots Dream Child towards a universal anointing, where inclusivity shines brighter than the dualistic either/or.

(Check out Dream Child below via Bandcamp)

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