Harsh rainfall leads crashes into the windowpane. As the pounding precipitation begins to pile against the glass, the gentle introduction of jazz instruments follows. The house blend of smoothing, piano bounces and snare stems start to coincide within each other, as the then graceful voice of TwiGy al Salaam starts to shuffle in and distribute through the record. As he uses the backing beat to ignite his performance, TwiGy al Salaam is a developing push toward a progressive near hour of beauty.
“Rain” is the first introduction to the John Coltrane influenced cover art where Blue Thought takes an artful representation of hip-hop and jazz fusion. As the performance moves into “Tonight”, the Japanese vocals would be incredibly foreign to any American listener, but the message translation is understood. The universal language of music transcribes through with these almost erotic whispers that occur in the background while trumpets and warm horn sections vibrate and sculpt a cityscape worth of material. The trumpet playing of Tabu Zombie is a constant variable on Blue Thought, similar to where Lee Morgan made his appearance in the 1957 release Blue Train.
TwiGy Al Salaam is a record for the midnight shuffles into the darkened sub-sections of city streets where the main traffic of the town has now flooded off to bed. Where the music can flourish in the underbelly of seedy speakeasies and accent lighting is the main staple. TwiGy Al Salaam may be the leader of the troupe where the smoke-infested room is a blur but somehow mesmerizing, he captures the attention of the listener in these jazz grooves that feel familiar but with a new coat of varnish. As if an old friend has seen a facelift, rejuvenating the senses and causing reverberation to the spine.
As some of the final analog photographs start to develop and become less of an abstract idea behind TwiGy Al Salaam, Blue Thought has this immense depth behind the verses and styles featured. From the producers that bounce all over Japan’s mountainous backbone, or to the track “Zoo” where the piano is less of a background player and begins to stunt on the jumbotron. It dances playfully in front of the audience and demands the attention as the verses correlate and harmonize as well.
The equal parts rap, equal parts jazz record is progressive and an easy dip in the water of Japanese hip-hop. The lo-fi style of percussion comes from these homegrown cases of ability and manages to hold a near hour worth of content without missing a single three-pointer. Launching from the golden-aged jazz influence to the last seconds of modern authenticity, Blue Thought is reminiscent with a new garnish that performs to impress with an arsenal of style.