- Bobby McFerrin's 1988 pop hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is guaranteed to bring back memories for listeners of a certain age. His son Taylor's debut album for Brainfeeder is unlikely to have the same effect, but it is, in its own oblique way, a curiously nostalgic record. Early Riser recalls '70s LPs by the likes of Herbie Hancock—with whom McFerrin Sr. collaborated—and actually evokes the process of remembering, insomuch as it's full of teasing hints and hazy feelings that ebb and flow throughout.
That sensation seems to reflect the way the Brooklyn-based producer constructed the record. McFerrin pieced Early Riser together from scraps of demos he'd left unfinished. In some cases, such as "4am" and "Blind Aesthetics," they remain short bits of ideas. The album title gives a good indication of its drowsy feel, one familiar from other Brainfeeder records such as Teebs' recent E S T A R A or more chilled moments from label boss Flying Lotus. Some tracks slowly reveal themselves like dawn spreading across the skyline. "Postpartum" begins with languid keys and McFerrin murmuring "I want to love you / in such a special way" before rising aloft on whorls of synth. "Already There" has the effect of a camera zooming further and further out, focusing first on the skittish drumbeat before rippling keys and a centipede bassline expand the frame until you feel like you're floating far above it.
Robert Glasper and Thundercat are the record's two most famous guests. Label-mate RYAT's ragged yet childish voice sounds close to Joanna Newsom on the forlorn "A Place In My Heart." "Decisions" shows Taylor is a consummate songwriter as well as a beatmaker, with Emily King's beautiful voice swimming in soft electronic currents and submerged sub-bass. McFerrin's dad makes an appearance on "Invisible / Visible," scatting and whistling to himself like a man lost in a daydream. Like all of Early Riser, this tune seems content to meander along at its own pace, going nowhere fast and savouring every moment.
02. Degrees Of Light
03. The Antidote feat. Nai Palm
05. 4 AM
07. Already There feat. Robert Glasper & Thundercat
08. Decisions feat. Emily King
09. Blind Aesthetics
10. A Place In My Heart feat. RYAT
11. Invisible/Visible feat. Bobby McFerrin & Cesar Camargo Mariano
12. PLS DNT LSTN