Modern jazz? What is it exactly? I never know how to define the genre. Thankfully, Jakim Pearson knows what he’s doing. His creativity on this album will make you think of artists like Jacob Collier and Snarky Puppy. But Jakim does it with electronic sounds only, using his keyboard as both drum and bass, and even his vocoder as a saxophone.
The album starts with “Clockwork.” A jazzy ballad that immediately shows you that you’re in for the unexpected. The opening track also has one of my favorite lyrics on this album:
“Why can’t we see through time? I guess because everything is in a circle.”
Jakim slowly builds melodies with his “mandolin” (a term I use loosely here because it’s a keyboard) while layering and mixing that bass and snare on top. It feels like this track never ends. The intro just grows and grows until it finally stops for the sake of transitioning into the next track.
“Time Lockers” is where it becomes clear that Jakim is not trying to mimic artists like Jacob Collier (though I think he’s better than him). Instead, he has his style, using some non-traditional melodies on top of pretty complex chord changes. There are some strong disco vibes on this song, with an almost Daft Punk-like beat. The use of the vocoder makes me think that he listened to Shai or Michael Jackson.
“To Borrow Time” is a “jazzy” jazz tune with fantastic piano work and melodies. This track takes its time to develop, but I’m fine with it because it’s just so pleasant to listen to. The chords have a lot of dissonances, but the melody is very tonal and “modern” sounding. Halfway through, a saxophone even comes in to accompany the piano. It ends with a long jam session from Jakim, who is clearly at home on the keyboard.
This song is so good I’m going to listen again.
“He Who Wants To Live Forever” starts with a groovy bassline, once again making me think of Daft Punk. The chords on the piano are simple but very effective in their simplicity while still having some unexpected turns. This song has more of a groove, and a few more elements come in as the song continues. The bass even becomes a lead!
“A Matter of Time” is my favorite track on this album. It’s funky and jazzy yet feels modern at the same time. I’m not sure how Jakim does it, but he seems to have found some sonic sweet spot in this track. The chord changes are complex, but the melody feels simple and lighthearted. The vocoder comes back for one more appearance here, playing an almost doo-wop melody that goes very well with the style of this song.
“North by North West” is a hauntingly beautiful ballad, which acts as a sort of album-prequel to “To Borrow Time.” The chords themselves are the same, and the structure is the same. It’s a great way to end this short but sweet album. Jakim’s music has that ability to make me feel emotions I’m not used to feeling from instrumental songs. Seriously, he can tap into feelings that I don’t even have a word for.
In conclusion, Jakim Pearson has made a great modern jazz album that goes beyond anything he’s done before using electronic instruments to make complex chord progressions and melodies. He seems to be constantly exploring new ways to make the music he wants to hear, which is refreshing in this day-and-age musical stagnation.