In the two previous occasions that we had featured Bells Atlas (April 3 and May 8), we gushed about their ability to seamlessly integrate sounds and rhythms from across genres AND cultures into one cohesive song. To hear this approach span an album – even only a four-track EP – is simply remarkable. On their latest record, Hyperlust, each song sounds different from the other yet the album feels cohesive, which, in itself, is quite the accomplishment especially when merging Afro-beat, soul, funk, jazz, R&B, and pop. But to make each song vibrant and hypnotic and without sounding overbearing or disjointed is truly remarkable. It is a testament to the talents of the Oakland-based quartet, who, despite diverse backgrounds, have been able to amalgamate their interests into one fine record.
Each song has a sultry and seductive quality thanks in large parts to the smokey and titillating voice of frontwoman Sandra Lawson-Ndu. However, the musicianship is also stellar. On the opening single, “Future Bones”, the interplay between Doug Stuart’s pass and the drum and percussion work of Geneva Harrison and Lawson-Ndu create a tropical feel that crosses from the Caribbean to the west coast of Africa. On “Sugar for the Queen”, guitarist Derek Barber gets his turn to shine on this soulful, funky track.
Bells Atlas then take a turn towards some jazz-infused pop on “Mess It Up”. The song is aptly named with the collision of drums, guitar, bass, and trumpet creating a chaotic jamboree of sound. “Bling” is the opposite – another smooth, soulful track that tickles the auditory senses.
The entire Hyperlust is a treat. It’s a kaleidoscope of sounds and textures and an innovative, refreshing album to hear. With each record, Bells Atlas grows a little and their music becomes even more appealing to the ears.
Bells Atlas are Sandra Lawson-Ndu (lead vocals, percussion); Doug Stuart (bass, vocals); Derek Barber (guitar); and Geneva Harrison (drums and vibes).
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