Each year, 8-10 new musicians are hand-picked by Giles Peterson. They are then mentored for a year, and use the course as a springboard for their respective careers. 2021’s Future Bubblers have come together to create an intelligent and progressive album, spanning genres from verbatim art to conscious hip hop.
It’s an intense and difficult to define album, as you’ve got 9 hit singles, each from a different voice, but you can hear that they’ve been feeding off each others’ creativity. There are tropes within the album; a through flow of changing rhythms, use of sampling and an R&B core.
It boldly opens with a collaboration between Ella Knight and Magoya. "The Most Beautiful Lie" plays with sculpting acoustic around electronic, and I was surprised and delighted to hear echoes of the artistic, peppy orchestral band; The Divine Comedy. They’ve taken the bones of their influences, and filled them with their own musical marrow.
The nostalgic sound continues and melts into Conrad Ellis’ "Make it Last" in which he douses us in satirical groove. The flirtatious, extrospective lyrics remind me of Reggie Watts, and I immediately add a bunch of early Outkast, and then Max B to my playlist.
Just when you think you’re safe in the world of funk and modern soul, Damos Room turns around and slaps you with some super interesting experimental sounds in "Soft-Bodied (Widows Reprise)". This is the song I want a background check on, the one I need to know the origins of. You don’t often hear this level of non-snobbish experimentalism on a young album; "remember you’re a mollusc". It's befitting a trippy, sci-fi arthouse film, the score for Under the Skin 2 perhaps.
Every Bubbler feels down to Earth, well within the zeitgeist, but not afraid to play with sounds established decades ago. You can hear the pleasure they have when creating and mixing music, from Madi Saskia’s beautifully androgenous voice in "Fast or Slow", to Grizz-O and JSSO’s "Tabou Remix", which samples some old era music, and engulfs it in grime. It’s racing, lyrical, cinematic, and most importantly, passionate.
‘Future Bubblers’ sounds like a new breed of superhero. Maybe they are, and they’re using their musical powers so we surrender to the headphones and sit up and listen to the blossoming, budding, breaking-boundary, musical bodies of the future.