Published Jun 11, 2019Jordan Rakei, the New Zealand-born, Australia-raised collaborator who quickly made a name for himself within London's varied music scene, has shifted his focus on Origin. Rakei's third record is a pivot away from the introspective exploration of anxiety that characterized his second record, and first for Ninja Tune, Wallflower, instead constructing a dystopian future not too far from our present.
Origin is propelled by lush production, its hook-filled melodies and jazz inflections giving a listeners a taste of his diverse influences. "Say Something" is a call to arms, yet open-ended enough to be removed from its setting. From falling in love with AI to the story of a character sent to populate a new planet, Origin's themes can appear outside our own reality, yet its lyrics extend beyond the technicalities of their inspirations. "Mind's Eye" weaves rippling guitar loops and textured percussion amid emotive lyrics: "Play for the least I'm hoping / Show you the doorway to my soul."
Guided by an irresistible bass line, "Rolling Into One" feels like a party, as Rakei folds in darker lyrics: "I'm looking on the bright side / While they wreaking the havoc." For the bright atmosphere of the record, Rakei includes sombre reflections within it. Depicting a world where an individual struggles for connection, he has written songs whose open-ended qualities imbue them with the universality of pop. "Signs" wrestles with the underlying question of Origin: what is our essential humanity?
Rakei echoes hero Stevie Wonder on the lilting "You & Me," its smooth piano solo not overstaying its welcome. In closing the record with "Mantra," he invokes positivity through turmoil. A meticulous songwriter and producer, Jordan Rakei has opened up his sound with Origin, extending an invitation into a highly creative mind eager to deepen the bonds created with his listeners. (Ninja Tune)