The German jazz quartet Bokoya likes to say they create music as if each musician “grew up inside a drum machine.” In practice, the crew from Cologne—which includes keys, trumpet, bass and drums—improvise in jam sessions until they lock into a groove, playing in the style of a looped-up soul or jazz break before switching things up again. Bokoya’s on-the-fly way of recording makes their debut album, Introducing, sound like a live beat tape taking shape in real time.
The two minute “Lizard” is a potent snapshot of Bokoya’s creative process in action. It opens with a mix of dissonant keys courtesy of Darius Held and lonesome trumpet played by Ferdinand Schwarz. The combination conjures up a sound that sounds fitting for the soundtrack of a ghost town movie scene. “Lizard” closes with a dramatic change into a boisterous workout fueled by Leon Raum’s powerful rattling drums and Lukas Wilmsmeyer’s monstrous bass line.
The constantly morphing nature of the songs on Introducing imbues the album with an organic energy. Fresh layers and new musical interactions are continually being revealed. A distorted horn line on the funk-infused “Bills” gives way to squelching dabs of bass; lingering swathes of muted trumpet on the slow burning “Pharao” are followed by echo-inflected guitar; and pensive piano lines and cosmic synths take turns playing center stage on the celestial sounding “Beedis.” By the time the drum ’n’ bass-styled closing cut “After Picture Dance” fades out, Introducing has proved itself a funky experiment in blurring the lines between improvisation and composition.