City Boy Players cover

This is the first album from Detroit’s keyboardist, singer and producer Niko Marks, an artist who has put out at least 50 albums since his 1999 debut. It’s a future-jazz/soul/hip hop/downtempo/house project made in collaboration with Eddie Flashin’ Fowlkes, a producer known more for his techno productions. Two Detroit creatives, one at the start of their recording career, the other a decade and a half in, and it’s something quite different from much of their other output. They blend the Detroit house and techno sound palette — sophisticated, detailed funky dance floor drum machine beats, alien synth sounds, loops/repetition — with jazz sample minor seventh diminished chords, live instrumentation, soul vocals and rap, into a series of electronic sampleology tech/jazz hybrids. In terms of Detroit house, it’s a sound that has absorbed some of the musical experiments of Carl Craig or Rick Wilhite but that also has one foot in the more direct, soulful house world of an artist like Alton Miller. 

The end result is an atmospheric Detroit album that alternates between club tracks leaning towards the more melodic, soulful end of the 90s house spectrum, smokey, jazz flecked hip hop and futuristic street soul.

Harold Heath