Everything Is Recorded is a wild ride. Just look at the first three proper tracks: First, on “Close but not Quite,” Sampha, who came out with a terrific album last year, reinterprets Curtis Mayfield’s powerful love song, “The Making of You.” Then comes “She Said,” featuring Obongjayar and Kamasi Washington. The song is tribal, thumping and stomping through an Afrobeat. Then Giggs takes on a fast-talking British rap jaunt over beats that struggle to keep up with this flow.
And it’s no wonder. Producer Richard Russell, founder of XL Recordings, has led a musical life that is nothing if not eclectic, helping turn artists like The XX, M.I.A., Vampire Weekend,and Adele into superstars, while also producing new works by legends like Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, and Gil Scott Heron.
Russell is usually content behind the boards, but several years ago he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome and decided he needed to make some music of his own. And the wonderful diaspora of artists he’s worked with for so many years were happy to come aboard and help. Syd. Ibeyi. Peter Gabriel. Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti). And so many more. Each contributes their own, different sound to the record, all tied together by samplers of past works by Mayfield, Keith Hudson, and Grace Jones. The result is a smooth, overall hipsway album with many gems and surprises. Yeah, sometimes it’s a little too subtle–burying Peter Gabriel in an interlude, for example–but when it works, it’s great.