Musical geniuses are hard to come by, but you'll know one when you hear one. That's why when Kamasi Washington drops a two hour album, no one will complain, because it's simply musical excellence. Kamasi Washington delivers an epic jazz marathon in Heaven & Earth, a spiraling, brilliant album that definitely takes you between worlds.
Heaven & Earth is a double album, and it definitely seems to be split between a mortal and a fantastical side. The first half is a celebration of the world we live on, and all the chaos and beauty that can be found on it. Opening track 'Fists Of Fury' is dramatic, its Latin subtleties helping it slowly evolve into a wondrous piece that seems to serve as an introduction into the wonderful world he looks at. Tracks like 'Tiffakonkae' and 'Testify' celebrate the beauty wholly, while tracks like 'Hub-Tones' and 'The Invincible Youth' acknowledge the chaos found within the world. The latter track, however, finds itself resolving as a more calm piece, sweetly reminding you of gentle, peaceful scenes that take you through beautiful but lowkey cityscapes. 'Can You Hear Him' explores this earlier on, the soulful, city-like atmosphere complete with increasingly glitchy sounds and a chaotic end.
The second half is certainly more futuristic and otherworldly. 'The Space Travelers Lullaby' is as otherworldly as you'd expect, the beautiful ten-minute piece taking you on a journey through space in its gorgeous run. 'Vi Lua Vi Sol' follows with a more futuristic vibe than a spacey one, its robotic vocals and somewhat repetitive structure playing towards the idea of a more controlled future. 'Street Fighter Mas' makes things a bit darker with its haunting gang vocals, throwing the record into a bit of a wild turn. Numbers like 'Show Us The Way' are spiraling and chaotic, as if you're falling into a hole of some spiritual sort. Other songs are more adventurous, like the wonder in 'Journey' or the curious 'The Psalmnist.' Celebration stays the key motif of the album though, with the wild 'Song For The Fallen' celebrating the dead in a positive and welcoming way. Closing track 'Will You Sing' sobers the record up a bit, dark chords introducing the song as a frantic, progressive beat meets a grand choir and orchestra. It's a big end, but a solemn reminder that to reach somewhere ideal, you have to get through some dark battles.
Kamasi Washington delivers an epic jazz marathon in Heaven & Earth, building atmosphere and beauty as he celebrates our planet, life, and what's beyond and ahead. It feels like an ode to life, and is as enchanting as life can possibly be. It's a journey and an experience, all in one.
Favorite Tracks: The Space Travelers Lullaby, Will You Sing, Can You Hear Him, Fists Of Fury
Least Favorite Track: One Of One
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy Heaven & Earth on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: