We Out Here is a compiled exposition of London’s burgeoning and experimental Jazz scene out via independent label Brownswood Recordings. Directed by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, the album is sleek, futuristic, immaculately-produced and maintains some coherence despite its huddled construction. While it pushes a few sonic boundaries, We Out Here is mostly enjoyable as a very listenable, very cool collection of modern Jazz.
The sounds and instruments featured on We Out Here are numerous. Each song has its own feel but all are ultimately united by a production style that features clean, beefy lows and crystal-clear mids and highs. The first track, “Inside the Acorn,” by ensemble Maisha is one of the album’s highlights. Its sound is seemingly imitative of the lush textures featured 45 years ago on Don Cherry’s Orient, but with a cleaner and more restrained feel. Shabaka Hutching’s “Black Skin, Black Masks” is another standout track with its rhythmic complexities, interplaying woodwinds and shifting moods. Hutching’s work is the freest and most interpretive on the album.
Moses Boyd’s “The Balance” and Triforce’s “Walls” stray the furthest from the typical instrumental boundaries for Jazz music. The former features drum-machine percussion and futuristic synthesizers, resolving from an electronic track to an outpouring of brass improvisational intensity in its latter half. “Walls” features prominently some electric guitar riffage before morphing into a minimal electronic beat at its conclusion.
The rest of the album follows a thread of Jazz fusion intertwined with electronic sounds. “Brockley” by Theon Cross is blocky and a bit repetitious. “Abusey Junction” by Kokoroko features some lovely Rhodes work and a beachy electric guitar. None of the tracks stand out too much, but as a whole We Out Here is a satisfying listen that covers a lot of Jazz’s current sonic landscape. Hutchings deserves praise for how composed the whole thing feels, despite the variety of sounds it presents.