As to be expected with any release from the British indie gem, the album uses hip hop as a vehicle to explore the sounds of classic jazz. This new one however is a cut above many of the other selections in MJM's catalogue because of the new elements it adds into the mix.
This release is a bit different in my opinion as it sounds more electronic than some of the previous entries in MJM’s discography; however this is not only a welcomed addition, but a celebrated one. The tracks here feel more expansive and take on a life of their own. By utilizing it’s jazzy elements as ear candy that serve to provide extra layers for the listener to absorb, they have managed to capture the ethereal nature of the mystical substance this project is so aptly named after.
It’s not a dramatic shift in tone and the classic sound is still very much present here for those who prefer that. Es-K’s Eternal is marvelous and still retains the prototypical MJM stylings but Rust Cohle’s True Detective musings in the intro reiterates how much “larger” this album feels.
Erik Jackson's Sentiments of Me does a stupendous job of showcasing a new flavor that the team has began to explore. Trigger Theory from Flitz&Suppe is another superb track that borders on trip-hop as a result of it’s semi-psychedelic synth-work and vocal samples from Big L (fun fact, Big L’s penmanship was not only one of the reasons I got interested in hip-hop growing up, but his work taught me about true lyricism and what it means to be an emcee. Rest In Peace.)
Skinnista’s Vision on both his track of the same name and the direction of the engineering is great. He has ensured that the sounds here are properly developed and are a marvel to enjoy with a decent pair of headphones (I’m still using Sennheiser HD-280s PRO but it’s about time for an upgrade) or sound system.
The ambience that accompanies many of the tracks are very easy to invest in and enjoy due to the crisp sound mixing.
Lazy Afternoon from Mr. Moods is the most Downtempo-esque and is something I would have expected to hear from early Amon Tobin or Funki Porcini. Hearing something like this was honestly a bit surprising and refreshing.
Overall, Fifth Element feels more diverse and “complete” than other MJM projects and that’s really saying something considering how consistent they have been. The more spacey atmosphere examines an entirely new dimension and it pays dividends. There is something here for everyone and should not be missed.
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