Release date: 8th August 2012
Finding an artist like Diggs Duke is like finding an oasis tucked away in an unlikely part of a jungle. With all the noisy artists shouting to get our attention all over the place at any given moment, the calm presence of a musician like Diggs Duke speaks louder. And a musician is exactly what he is, in the real and traditional sense of the word. Not only has he been blessed with a beautiful, soulful voice (very similar to that of John Legend), but every single sound you hear on this release has been composed and performed by the man himself. That means Vocals, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Electric Piano, Acoustic Piano, Trumpet, Alto Saxophone, Djembe, Shekere, Wood Blocks and Drum Programming. It goes without saying that this kind of talent is incredibly rare in music today.
But it’s not just his technical abilities that I would commend him for. On an essay on his website, Duke speaks of music as a science, as well as an art. I think the fact that he sees music as something which should be looked at in depth and analysed properly has definitely allowed him to be more innovative in his work:
“The truth is that when we hear music that we like, there are predictable qualities within those sounds that resonate with us for a predictable reason. Knowing this, the composer has the most valuable information at his or her disposal. If we know what the listener is expecting, we can manipulate those expectations to enhance the overall impact a song has … The best musicians and composers are master manipulators of expectations.”
And this “manipulation of expectations” is exactly what I think he does. Although you can hear very clear jazz and soul influences on Mass Exodus, the fact that he is floating above and between genres rather than following them strictly seems pretty evident. As he says himself (See the Soundcloud player below) “Genres are Stupid”.
And anyway, genre doesn’t matter when the melodic instrumental compositions, raw percussion and quirky lyrics work so well together throughout. My favourite track Crazy Like A Fox is a perfect example of this. They say it’s much harder to be creative and simple than to be complex or intricate in your creativity. Every track on Mass Exodus is masterpiece of smoothness and simplicity, but they all most definitely pack a punch and Diggs Duke has managed be creative and innovative using only the most pure and organic sounds.
The EP is available through iTunes tomorrow or you can buy it off his Bandcamp right now. His previous releases are also definitely worth checking out.
My Rating: 7.5/10