Album review \\ Gondwana shows a new direction with debut from Leeds band Noya Rao
Gondwana—the decade deep powerhouse Jazz label—is moving into its next ten years with a vanguard of new artists, starting with Leeds foursome Noya Rao.
Icaros, Noya Rao’s ten track debut, is laden with a quiet confidence. The soft bed of electronic layers, warmth of vocals and shimmers of modernity instil emotional responses with immediacy. Icaros opens with a liquid soundscape on stand-out track Azimuth. Soulful deliveries filter through an instantly pervasive nature. The potential of Noya Rao’s future is also clear in the anthemic qualities of Midas with its time signature shifts and chunky breakdown.
The first track to surface off this release, Golden Claw, has something for Little Dragon fans with its driving key stabs and drifting tonal shifts. Meanwhile, Dreaming Part 1 provides a transportive atmosphere before I Feel—perhaps the most commercial track of the album—envelopes you with a haze that could have been influenced by Nick Martinelli.
The ten tracks take multiple departures across musical terrains; it really doesn’t stand still. Same Sun Will Rise brings chugging melodic house beats before dropping in tempo, charging up and then returning back to Larry Heard territory. This Time is a slowly melting, spacious ballad; gloriously undercooked to allow the vocals to breath. Dreaming Part 2, with its dream-pop meets Bladerunner tone, is a wall of layered sound; it seems a fitting way to round off an ambitious and mature debut collection of tracks.
Whilst various Jazz artists are alumni of music colleges around the world, there is some cohesion lacking between those in England’s North-West and its local scenes. Noya Rao, with two of its members previously students of Leeds College of Music, could be a welcomed turning point.
EZH | Pablo Blanquito