Seven Davis Jr Universes Ninja Tune
There’s something extremely impulsive about Seven Davis Jr.’s debut album, as if it were thrown together overnight.
Ever since his summer stretching 2013 hit One, something in his heavily grooving meld of funk, disco and house always held a spontaneity that was very appealing. Yet, from frantically fast opener Freedom onward, this immediacy more often than not feels chaotic, like you’ve accidentally stuck the record on at 45.
Despite touching on some serious subject matter lyrically, the album still manages to feel lyrically playful and fun. As the album progresses, Davis’s idiosyncratic character does continue to shine, with songs that combine off-kilter disco with raw, rhythmic soul driven by his own vocals. Indeed, from the gloriously wonky cosmic soul of Kutmah collaboration Afterlife to the hi-octane house of Everybody Too Cool and the softer wiggle of No Worries, many tracks on Universes forge the undeniably unique sound that he made his name with.
This does, however, mean that the collaborations stick out (as do the vocoder skits piecing the tracks together). The more polished production coming from Julio Bashmore on Good Vibes and the melodic breakdown on fLako collaboration Be A Man are slices of colourful house in their own right but fail to preserve the raw energy running throughout.
Universes certainly carries some charm, and with more listens the satisfaction found in its chaotic meld of influences continues to grow. But we need a bit of a breather before returning.