Taylor McFerrin, Early Riser

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 06.10.14 in Reviews

Superficially, it may scan as a surprise that the electro-auteur and producer Taylor McFerrin is, in fact, the son of Bobby, the one-hit wonder who bequeathed the world the 1988 cod reggae novelty hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Yet McFerrin Sr. is also a renowned experimental vocalist, composer and conductor, and on this debut album his progeny exhibits a similar strain of voracious musical curiosity. Early Riser arrives on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, and is entirely at home there: The claustrophobic, pattering percussion and propulsive bass pulse of “Postpartum” and “Degrees Of Light” could be Steven Ellison himself.

An accomplished debut from a mesmerizing new talent

McFerrin, however, is no mere FlyLo tribute act: His digital deliberations are more humane and organic than his patron’s. On “The Antidote,” Hiatus Kayiote singer Nai Palm ladles a honeyed vocal over shards of ambient jazz jungle and recalls ’90s UK drum ‘n’ bass sirens Martina Topley-Bird and Nicolette; “A Place In My Heart,” with a spectral RYAT playing the ghost in the machine, could be Björk guesting on a long-lost outtake from Blue Lines. When McFerrin sings, on “Florasia,” he sounds like John Legend, which suggests he should do it rather more than he does on this accomplished debut from a mesmerizing new talent.