London-based producer K15 made his name three years ago with a series of funk-inflected, synth-heavy house tracks for Kyle Hall’s Wild Oats label, taking a laid-back approach to the dancefloor with his debut release Insecurities. Following on from this self-assured offering, he has since teamed up with Henry Wu on a broken-beat inspired EP as well as with house veteran Mr. G on this year’s minimal, yet insistent A Learning Curve. Notwithstanding these varied collaborations, K15 has always gestured towards acoustic jazz and soul in his productions, whether it be through sampling R&B artists like Zhané on his track Mist, or in the keen sense of swing that reoccurs throughout his work. His latest project, Profusion, a joint effort with singer-songwriter Emeson, therefore seems like a natural progression.
What is almost inevitable about Profusion is that it sees K15 delving deep into the soul canon, making tracks that fully embody the influences that have previously only had background a presence in his electronic-dominated work. The reason for the lack of club-focus, in favour of songwriting, is Emeson, frontman for soul-jazz groups LifeSize and Saturn’s Children. The outcome of this pairing is Profusion’s debut album, Where Do I Begin?, released on First Word.
The opening title track sets the scene for the LP, placing Emeson’s self-harmonizing voice at the forefront, bouncing off of K15’s head-nodding beats. Other numbers Time’s Up, Amazing, and Golden see more of K15’s influence, mixing bruk with rhythmic synths and African percussion. In fact, the tracks that allow for K15’s compositions to breathe fare best. For instance, the ambient one-minute opening of Aida sets the tone beautifully for Emeson’s plaintive refrain, while the breakbeat of Messages blends songwriting sensibility with a nocturnal weight.
Other generic experiments, such as the dubby A Long Walk and piano ballad Starz make for a more jarring listening experience though. They almost derail the focus of the record and leave Emeson’s voice slightly too unadorned, exposing an unintentional fragility. Yet, Where Do I Begin? largely impresses in its sense of authenticity, paying more than just homage to generic influences.
[This piece was published in EZH Magazine on 06/06/17]