Blue Lab Beats: Blue Eclipse review – jazzy production duo eye the spotlight

(Blue Note)
The Kojey Radical and Angélique Kidjo collaborators refine their soul-and-hip-hop-tinged sound on this propulsive, polished fourth album

The British jazz resurgence of the past decade has produced plenty of live talent, yet the production duo Blue Lab Beats have been just as prolific in the studio. Since their 2018 debut XOver, producer NK-OK (Namali Kwaten) and multi-instrumentalist Mr DM (David Mrakpor) have now released three more albums, as well as contributing to production on Angélique Kidjo’s Grammy-winning 2021 Mother Nature album and rapper Kojey Radical’s Mercury-nominated 2022 debut Reasons to Smile.

Their work is a slick blend of head-nodding hip-hop beats, neo-soul melodies and glimmers of jazz improvisation. On Blue Eclipse, Blue Lab Beats present the fullest realisation of their distinctive sound. Highlights include Say Wow, which pits rapper Jay Prince’s vocals against a kinetic mid-tempo bassline, while Guava artfully blends snapping electronic drum programming with highlife guitars and celebratory horn fanfares. The title track, meanwhile, sees trumpeter Poppy Daniels soar over an intricate and propulsive electro-jazz fusion.

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