When I stumbled upon the trailer for Tall Black Guy’s Tempo Dreams Vol. 1, I sat in front of my laptop utterly transfixed, stupefied really, by the ridiculously dope sounds that were performing a deep tissue massage on my grey matter. I went on to replay it four more times in succession before resolving to dig up everything I could associated with the man. Further research affirmed my hunch, homeboy’s unequivocally and indisputably The Truth, no disrespect to Paul Pierce. Reppin’ the D (is there something in the water there?) Terrell Wallace has gotten cosigns from UK tastemaker and radio host Gilles Peterson, kudos from other musicians the world over, and was recently crowned champion of the Robert Glasper Remix Project.
With those type of credentials it’s only fitting that Tall Black Guy orchestrate the introduction to the world of a lineup of likeminded beat maestros from all over the globe, and while the majority were unknowns, that status is going to change with the quickness. The top flight artistry of Tempo Dreams Vol. 1 is rooted in its continuity, consistency, and cerebral producer’s producer aesthetic highlighted by joints that not only crank, but lean heavily towards lustrous orchestration and nuanced compositions that garner more appreciation with every listen. Unsurprisingly, this project is beautifully mixed throughout, with tunes that go beyond making love to your eardrums-the auditory equivalent of banging Aphrodite herself.
The twelve songs on Tempo Dreams Vol. 1 all fit comfortably in the acid jazz, jazz-hop, and downtempo neighborhood and while it could be classified as lounge music there’s no question that this project can quite ably engage the listener’s full attention. MonkeyRobot’s “Basement Infusion” sounds like the soundtrack a based b-boy Tron would listen to while going about his biz of reducing competing bytes to bits. “Scanner Resurrection,” by Chief, is a wistful, groovy head-nodder driven in part by a cleverly selected Com Sense soundbite, otherworldly vocals, and a hint of some down and dirty laser gun funk. Admittedly and ironically though, Ta-ku’s “Smile” was the joint I heard on the trailer that sealed the deal as far as motivating me to find out more about Tall Black Guy. No hyperbole, but your favorite beatmaker on his best day couldn’t make a song this good. Exquisitely constructed with cascading piano keys, judiciously used horns, sweetly multilayered high register string instruments--and synths that work in tandem with the bass line better than chocolate and peanut butter--“Smile” is an elegant piece of laidback complexity.
While a number of intrepid emcees out there may go ahead and take a swing at some of the tracks on Tall Black Guy Presents: Tempo Dreams Vol. 1, the truth is that the production on here is good enough to stand on its own--defiantly, even. Fans of the Jazz Liberatorz, Nicolay, Damu the Fudgemunk and the like are going to lose their minds when this record inevitably appears in their radius of attention. The folks who contributed to this album aren’t just making beats, they’ve evolved to making full blown arrangements. Besides the curator himself, the eleven other contributors couldn’t have done a better job at making the world take notice of their abilities. Take it as a given that after listening to Tempo Dreams Vol. 1, anything associated with anybody on this album is an automatic cop. Tall Black Guy and his eleven guest producers go beyond bringing their A game, electing instead to bring the whole damn alphabet.