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Werkha - Colours Of A Red Brick Raf (CD, Tru Thoughts, 2015)

Manchester-based musician & producer Werkha's blend of afrobeat, jazz and techno, with both acoustic and electronic instrumentation, is the perfect soundtrack to a walk in a city with the headphones on. It has everything you need: enough soul to soothe yours, enough funk and pop to keep things steady and snappy, enough feeling to let your mind wander freely. 21st century soul at its unclassifiable finest: outside of time.

Werkha - Colours Of A Red Brick Raf
Werkha - Colours Of A Red Brick Raf
(CD/Digital) Tru Thoughts TRUCD309, 2015-06-08

Tracklisting :
01. FlinchQuiver 05:13
02. Dusk feat. Bryony Jarman-Pinto 03:22
03. Falling Through The Wall 04:09
04. The Invincible feat. Alex Rita 03:27
05. Dim The Light 04:05
06. Sidesteppin' feat. Bryony Jarman-Pinto 05:10
07. Highwaves 03:06
08. Fire By The Kul 04:40
09. Houses Of Saffron 02:01
10. City Shuffle feat. Bryony Jarman-Pinto 03:49
11. Border Kite 04:18
12. A Revolution Blue 04:20

Links :
Werkha : official | bandcamp | discogs | facebook | soundcloud | twitter
Tru Thoughts : official | bandcamp | facebook | juno | parisdjs | soundcloud | twitter | youtube

Press Release :
Out 8th June, ‘Colours Of A Red Brick Raft’ is the debut album from Manchester based musician Werkha, whose infectious fusion of Afrobeat, bass, house, jazz, funk and soul is bound together with constantly evolving electronic production. The launch of his debut full-length record builds on a landmark 2014 for the producer and multi-instrumentalist which saw his “Beacons” EP championed by the likes of BBC R1’s Monki and Rob da Bank, Gilles Peterson and Nemone on BBC 6Music, John Kennedy (XFM), Goldierocks (The Selector), Bonobo’s BBC R1 Essential Mix, THUMP, Eton Messy, Sabotage Times and Topman Ctrl.

His live outfit attracting ever more attention, last year also saw Werkha play at Mr Scruff’s album launch and support Bonobo and Chet Faker on international tours, further fuelling his hunger and creativity. As well as providing a rare window into the workings of these admired artists (after all, not every young producer gets to pick the brains of Bonobo’s string arranger during a spell of downtime, or learn from Chet Faker how to deliver a killer live electronic performance), these adventures also fed the innate wanderlust which Werkha draws on in his own music.

An exciting start to 2015 has seen Werkha previewing two tracks from ‘Colours Of A Red Brick Raft’ in Eton Messy and Red Bull studios’ new live video session series, and even developing a bespoke beer to launch alongside his album in conjunction with Manchester’s ShinDigger brewery.

Werkha is the moniker of Tom A. Leah, who moved from the urban bustle of Manchester to the sticks of Cumbria as a child, later returning to study music and pursue his career. The two geographically close but starkly different environments that he calls home have always been a powerful muse, while his fascination with capturing a sense of place also infuses his work with all the energy and flavours of travel. The title bubbling evocatively with the themes and imagery within, on‘Colours Of A Red Brick Raft’ the momentum and the personal and artistic development of recent years are palpably present. “I have always had a mix of inspirations, and all this movement and exposure to different environments helped me embrace the idea of channelling so many different styles into one album”, says Leah; “I basically realised: albums should be just as fun and engaging as travels are”.

The lead single (11th May) hints at the lively and diverse essence of the LP via two tracks - the transcendental string and vocal-led “Dusk feat. Bryony Jarman-Pinto” and the deep house-meets-FlyLo chicanery of “Falling Through The Wall” - and has seen early radio play including Nemone (BBC 6Music) and Nick Luscombe (BBC R3). Leah continues his lifelong creative partnership with Jarman-Pinto on stylish “Beacons EP” standout “Sidesteppin’” and on “City Shuffle”, which sees the honed yet earthy tones of this future star intertwining with fuzz and funky guitar for an irrepressible ode to the buzz and flow of urban life. “The Invincible feat. Alex Rita” finds Leah working with another talented singer, plying his skilful compositional touch for a delicate yet crowd-pleasingly direct ditty.

An array of adventurous instrumental cuts spirit the listener away in untold directions; from the alternately frenetic and lulling, static-laden opener “Flinch / Quiver” via the laid-back human warmth, soulful harmonies and crisp synths of “Dim The Light”, which brings a modern take on trip-hop, to the grin-inducingly playful and potent “Highwaves”. “Fire By The Kul” places glistening flurries of harp and an earthy cello alongside skittish footwork beats, and “Houses Of Saffron” tells of hazy heat and the frisson of new places in Werkha’s own sonic vocabulary. The momentum and picturesque blur of “Border Kite” befit a track that took shape on a long train journey on tour, before we wrap up right back in Manchester with “A Revolution Blue”, an aptly pensive yet optimistic piece inspired by an imposing blue graffito of modern day revolutionary Edward Snowden spied in the Northern Quarter, and built around a fluid, bluesy jazz-infused piano theme that explores a more classic side to Leah’s musicianship.

Still just 23 years old, Leah backs up the childlike freedom in his music with a purposeful and philosophical approach that marks him out further as a talent to be taken seriously. Even before being snapped up by Tru Thoughts, he had already announced himself as Werkha with the “Cube & Puzzle” EP which gained around 300,000 video views and saw Gilles Peterson licensing a track to a Brownswood Bubblers compilation. His tight live band - developed to offer a much more ‘human’ experience than the standard laptop-based electronic set - features Leah playing guitar and triggering original samples, with Jarman-Pinto on lead vocals and Shunya on cello.



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