Dark matter is the invisible cosmic glue holding the universe together. It’s also the name of the debut album from acclaimed London drummer Moses Boyd. Both operate in mysterious – if rhythmic – ways.
Under the capital’s starless skies, the best chance to experience this display is at the Electric in Brixton on Thursday (March 12th). Moses’ Dark Matter tour is already 13 dates deep, having conquered such venues as the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels.
Leading his new quartet, it’s the first time the stickman and producer has pushed himself centre stage. And even without a telescope, it’s clear that his brave fusion of uptempo hustle and soulful jazz is out of this world.
According to Moses, the album’s sessions began in 2017 after his first trip to South Africa. As he travelled, he recorded samples and snatches of rhythms, stopping off in studios and artists’ homes, experimenting and gathering new collaborators and ideas. “I still love jazz,” he said. “But this is something different.”
“There’s been no pressure or expectation of anything. There was no immediate need to do anything, so I was really free. A very liberating experience. It’s a very ‘produced’ record. Many different sounds, setups, places and music taken from different places and sessions – but I feel like finally it sounds like I’m a producer that also plays jazz.”
Yet Boyd’s stickwork remains the main attraction. With a supremely deft touch, his playing at his recent Brussels gig packed the same punch as afro-beat legend Tony Allen – before he shifts his grip to channel the delicacy of Jack DeJohnette.
If nothing else, Moses is always on point. As one half of Binker & Moses, a sometime Sons of Kemet collaborator, double MOBO & Jazz FM award winner, and the producer of singer Zara Macfarlane’s camouflage-laden second album Arise on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label; Moses has also chalked up original compositions for the Louis Vuitton Foundation x MoMa Archive film (2017) and the Dunhill Paris Fashion shows (2018-2019).
His bandmates also deserve mention. For everything they did to move the groove along in Brussels, it was Boyd’s ability to make space and stretch the music that is his greatest attribute. Tenor saxophonist Quinn Oulton brings a fiery edge to the proceedings (think of a slightly boppier Nat Birchall), while guitarist Artie Zaitz and synth player Renato Paris riff inquisitively around Moses’ ever-shifting drum work.
Catch the Dark Matter tour before it disappears.
Moses Boyd plays the Electric in Brixton on March 12th. Tickets here.