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Albums That Made Me - Métropole

Updated: Jun 12

In this series of blogs, I will document a selection of albums that were pivotal in shaping my musical journey. I will focus on what made these albums special to me, as opposed to what makes them special in music, cultural or any other terms. Of course, every album I discuss can be considered as recommended listening, however, please keep in mind that whilst these albums are special to me, that doesn't mean they're particularly special and/or unique in their own right (although in most cases, I would argue that they are!).

 
Anomalie - Metropole album cover

Artist: Anomalie

Album: Métropole

Release: 2017

Label: Self-Release

Genre: Electronic / Nu Jazz


Personnel:


Anomalie – composer, performer, producer, mix engineer, mastering engineer

Alec Donkin - Artwork


Personal Context


In late 2017 or early 2018 my friend and podcast collaborator Adam, excitedly says to me "check this out"! It was an EP called Métropole by Anomalie. Whilst it's not an album as per the rest of the articles (to date) on this blog-series, it contains such a high degree of quality and detail that it more than makes up for its short run-time.


Upon first listen I was hit by the lush, electronic orchestration which was like that of YMO, yet it had been paired with jazz-piano sentiments that walked a line between Peterson, Hancock and Evans, topped off with an injection of funk and sass you might otherwise find on a Jimmy Caster, Quincy Jones or Tower or Power record. Lastly it had been topped off with a sprinkling of 80s synth sophistication courtesy of some Chromeo-esque stylings and tonalities. All the aforementioned had been tightly, neatly packaged and refocused through a truly contemporary electronic music lens that sat at the forefront of expressionism within the electronic music medium.


I listened, and then listened again, and then listened some more. I almost listened to nothing else for about 6 weeks. This EP was powerfully working its way into my psyche and quickly started to alter my approach to music creation.


My Takeaways


Around the time of discovering Anomalie, I was in the early stages of sketching out ideas that would later become my album Ideality. I was listening to a great deal of records produced by Quincy Jones as well as a lot of Herbie Hancock's late 1970s and early 1980s output. Therefore, I already had funk and disco on the brain. What Anomalie showed me was how to channel my ideas in much more contemporary ways, whilst also allowing room for more jazziness than I'd previously not been brave enough to work with. Essentially he showed me what was possible (musically) in the late 2010s.


Much like my commentary about Off The Wall, this EP (or mini-album) is so unbelievably tight and pocketed. Every micro-division of every beat is meticulously precise, yet never at the detriment of musicality and/or swing. Beats and bass-lines heave and pull with percussive elements that snap so aggressively, you feel like they could take your hand off. It's as if some J Dilla grooves were implanted into a mech from Neon Genesis Evangelion and let loose on the tune! The grooves are stratospheric, yet so planted on the ground, I never know whether to nod or shake my head when listening. Métropole always has me simultaneously feeling euphoria, shock and disbelief. I can't not pull stink-face when I listen to this EP.


So, I fully digested this EP and poured that inspiration into Ideality. Ideality is a very different record to Métropole, but I think the influence is there for all to see. I expanded my variety, tonal palette, and jazziness, whilst also tightening up my programming and sequencing techniques, all in an effort to raise my game in the vein of Anomalie. To date, I still regard Ideality as my most technically complex and sophisticated piece of work, and without a doubt, that would never have happened, were it not for Métropole.


Conclusion


Anomalie followed up on this EP with Métropole Part II in 2018. It's a similar length to the first EP and picks up where the previous one left off. I highly recommend listening to them both (sequentially) in a single sitting, as they're a wild ride.


Anomalie also champions the independent musician life in the most admirable ways, doing jam sessions streams on Twitch, as well as streamed production sessions. He runs a Discord server for likeminded musicians and fans to chat, and through his social media posts generally promotes contemporary Jazz piano; a discipline in which I think he's world-leading right now. He makes me want to play the piano and improve my improvisational vocabulary, and it's been a long time since I've heard a "new" pianist who's had that impact on me.


He recently released an EP with Chromeo, on Chromeo's label Juliet Records. This felt like a watershed moment for me, as a huge fan of both artists. On one hand, it makes sense, as they operate in similar paradigms of synthesiser funkiness and both hail from Canada, nevertheless their collaborative work is just sublime and I urge you to check it out.


Between Anomalie, Chromeo and Oscar Peterson, I clearly have a thing for Jazzy, Funky Canadians. Or maybe Canada has a thing for Jazzy Funkiness... Either way, I'm here for it and can't wait to hear what's next.

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