Samon Kawamura - Unfold
After 2007’s debut Translation, which was a totally instrumental affair, it’s interesting to be faced with the inclusion of vocalists and MC’s on Samon Kawamura’s second album, Unfold. This half German, half Japanese producer has always been an interesting, if not purposely low-key artist. Deeply rooted in the experimentation of Jazz his beats had the ability to seep into your consciousness, their quiet but stirring nature always tempting you to return time after time.
Rich in the tradition of “crate Digging”, Samon’s production remains true to the values encrusted into his first album; smooth instrumentation floats over carefully placed beats, only this time a good half of the record is accompanied by the aforementioned vocals. Kev Brown, of the Jazzy Jeff camp contributes to ‘Still Significant’, and if it wasn’t for his, at times lackadaisical delivery, it would be one of the album highlights – musically it’s full of vitality and a keener MC might have complemented it slightly better.
The most exciting choice of MC present here is OH NO, brother to uber-cool producer Madlib, whose best work has been with the Hip Hop chameleon MF Doom as Madvilliany. OH NO displays a tight flow with his words on ‘Right Here’, and on the basis of this collaborations with his brother would be more than welcome. Unfold is rooted in a deep Hip Hop tradition that echoes De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots. The Jazz fuelled beats create a soundscape of warmth and invention that deserves respect, even if it is in danger of falling into an easy-listening category at times. There is no doubt that as a producer Samon is meticulous in his approach; a veritable army of samples are carefully interlaced and woven together to create a seamless collection of tracks.
If your taste is for understated beats and production of an easy and flowing nature, then Unfold will definitely appeal to your senses. For me, it lacks an edge: that certain spark that elevates a Hip Hop release from quiet head-nodder to a genuinely good album. What isn’t in debate though is that you must keep an eye on Samon Kawamura, the future’s bright for this one.