#HeavyRotation – Ash Walker “Astronaut”

Available now on Night Time Stories!

Listen & Buy Astronaut Here

Ash Walker appeared on the Fresh Taste show back in 2019, you can listen to his guest mix right here on our station: Fresh Taste #67

Via Bandcamp – Four years on from his explorative third full-length ‘Aquamarine,’ Londoner Ash Walker returns with an equally ambitious follow-up, set for release via Night Time Stories on 30th June. Alongside a plethora of award-winning collaborators and combining a dizzying array of sounds, ‘Astronaut’ hears Walker push his astral shower of rhythm and vibes to new heights. If ‘Aquamarine’ was the take-off of his audial spaceship, ‘Astronaut’ is the cosmic voyage reaching terminal velocity; a rocket-powered masterclass spanning jazz, blues, soul, funk, and reggae.

An avid record collector, Walker has DJed far and wide… from the infamous Royal Mail squat party to the canals of Venice, spinning vinyl in Brixton with The Specials to scattering dub across San Francisco and LA. His own production output is similarly exploratory: his journeys have taken him far and wide, from tunnels under the river Thames to recording local percussionists in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. Inspired by a deep dive of sounds from artists including Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, King Tubby, Bo Diddley, 4Hero, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Curtis Mayfield, Philip Glass, and Steve Reich; his first two albums, ‘Augmented 7th’ (2015) and ‘Echo Chamber’ (2016) gained attention from the likes of BBC 6 Music DJs Gilles Peterson, Don Letts and Gideon Coe.

‘Astronaut’ opens with ‘Only Love’ and features dreamy vocals from inimitable Mercury-nominee and Lamb member Lou Rhodes. “I’d always been such a fan of her work with Lamb and the West-Country scene growing up ,and I felt so privileged when she said yes,” explains Walker. After recording it in Somerset, the pair agreed it was in need of a choir, and Laville & Sheree Dubois were called up to elevate that Sunday service feeling. ‘Letting Go’ was developed from a sketch at Walker’s home studio, with some of the Ebi Soda crew cooking up some beats and award-winning producer, engineer and songwriter Andrew Ashong providing the final magic touch. Having been a huge fan of Amp Fiddler and the Detroit scene from his teenage years, Walker was hungry to get him involved in the project.’ “When I first heard the vocals for ‘Afronaut,’ I was lost for words. Not only had he smashed the brief, but he clearly understood my vision of the entire project,” recalls Walker. Another afternoon with the Ebi Soda gang saw ‘Babylonian Triangle Of Captivity’ come to light, its name inspired by Franco Rosso and Martin Stellman’s 1980 classic film ‘Babylon.’ Denitia blew Walker away with her vocal offering on ‘Time Gets Wasted,’ and Grammy winner Sly5thAve (Prince, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight) went the extra mile on sax, clarinet, bass clarinet and flute. Next up Ezra Collective and Nubya Garcia band member Joe Armon-Jones and South London music-scene pioneer Oscar Jerome join forces on ‘Automaton,’ and British-Bahraini horn player Yazz Ahmed lays down some flugelhorn magic on ‘Running Away.’ After playing ‘Petrolhead’ live for years, Walker finally summoned a suitable cast to do it justice in the studio, before Ahmed’s muted trumpet breathes some extra life into penultimate groove ‘Detroit Velvet Smooth.” Intended to represent the slow rotation of Jupiter on its axis, label buddy Kennebec provides fitting flourishes to the albums final offering. A beautiful and thought-provoking finale to a cosmic masterpiece, it cements Walker’s place amongst jazz music’s elite. We have lift off.

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