Album: Lydian Collective – Return

‘Return’ marks the new and highly anticipated album release from the London-based quartet Lydian Collective.

Following the release of their debut 2018 album, ‘Adventure’, the Lydian Collective – as a unit and as individual members – have ascended to some staggering heights in that time. Enamoured by their distinctive alt-jazz meets fusion meets electronica meets funk aesthetic, theirs was a sound that found itself embraced by now devoted fans and broadcast media all invariably charmed by the quartet’s unwavering energy and indefinable style.

Perhaps now warranting the distinction of having become a full-fledged super group, the quartet is comprised of four distinct artists who have chalked up innumerable successes across each of their respective careers. Founded by producer and multi-instrumentalist Aaron Wheeler, who had already developed an incredible catalogue of music under the guise of electronica artist Laszlo as far back as 2011 via his debut full-length, ‘Radial Nerve’, the Lydian Collective was initially put together as a live act when taking Laszlo music on the road. Laszlo’s ‘Mr Sunshine’ – a single from 2010 that would find its home on ‘Radial Nerve’ – serves as a remnant of this transition with the Lydian Collective’s reinterpretation of the tune finding its respective home on ‘Adventure’. Needless to say, the quartet would end up inspiring its own path and becoming a separate entity entirely which is a strong testament to the minds and the players involved.

Another of the said players that went on to shape the Lydian Collective’s overall sound was Wheeler’s friend and collaborator, guitarist Todd Baker. Having also worked together as a duo under the moniker of Musicbox, the artists have long shared a unified vision for the exciting and unexplored realms their respective musical aspirations could take them.

And the final pieces of the Lydian Collective puzzle are completed by bassist Ida Hollis and drummer Sophie Alloway. As a bassist, guitarist and educator, Hollis has found her talents called upon by a range of artists from the studio to the stage across varying styles including jazz to folk and musical theatre; Again, Alloway proves to be as in-demand a talent – a veracious live performer, the drummer finds herself boasting some excellent collaborations with the legendary Tony Allen, Yazz Ahmed and also serving as one-third of soul-jazz trio, Wild Card.

Yes, the term “super group” is certainly appropriate when considering the amount of talent and imagination that the Lydian Collective are able to showcase as individual members and, more pertinently, the undeniable magic that is sparked when the four perform as a unit. ‘Adventure’ was rapturously received upon release but now, four years later, their sophomore effort looks set to wow audiences all over again.

Across the album’s ten tracks, ‘Return’ reintroduces the Lydian Collective’s unrivalled, high-energy and all-encompassing compositions living up to the lofty expectations for the quartet’s follow-up record. The infectious groove of album opener ‘Shuffle Bubble’ opens proceedings before making way to the brilliant ‘Saintonge’ and the US West Coast funk-stylings of ‘High 555’. The brilliantly-titled ‘Space Samba’ is every bit the fun its name suggests and ‘Wide Open Space’ is a track that also warrants special mention as an exquisite and more subdued number but still a track that exudes just as much personality.

‘Return’ delivers as another brilliant entry within the burgeoning catalogue of the Lydian Collective and while ‘Adventure’ brought the group to stages and audiences across the world, it will be fascinating to see that adoration develop even further when this incredible record connects with people all over again.

Imran Mirza

I love discovering something I've never heard before and sharing that feeling with like-minded people who embrace the music in the same way. You're welcome to join me on more of my musical misadventures on Blue-in-Green:RADIO.

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