How many sounds can one man, one guitar and a drum machine make? You can find the answer to this question by wrapping your ears around Mansur Brown’s first solo release Shiroi. Merging elements of jazz, trap beats and pure rock n’ roll, Brown creates a series of up-lifting sound worlds with layers of heavenly guitar & bass. At just 21, he has been compared to the likes of George Benson and Jimmi Hendrix. Brown in fact paid homage to Hendrix and did him justice during his legendary Church of Sound songbook concert with Yussef Dayes, his fellow South-East London musical partner who he has recorded critically acclaimed records with – such as ‘Love Is The Message’ & ‘Black Focus’ – and played with around the world. Now applying his experience and musical know-how into a solo project, Brown solidifies his unmistakeable sound with help of Kamaal Williams’ Black Focus Records.
There is a gritty elegance in the music, a style bespoke to the South-East London jazz scene which Brown is a key player within. This is illustrated by the bass lines in the title track of the album & ‘Straight to the Point’, both having pulsating melodies which evoke images of walking through a busy metropolis on a mission. The dark driving forces of these 2 tunes are bathed in soulful guitar chords, which ring out to the edges of your ears, meeting spatters of Brown’s signature jazz-rock infused licks.
Of course there are some epic solos and shredding. Highlights include the climaxes of ‘Shiroi’ – where he applies some mad guitar effects to make it sound more like a kora - ‘Me Up’ – a funky bullet of sound where Brown channels his inner-Hendrix - & ‘God Willing’ – a beautiful song which will take to the listener to celestial plains.
Brown’s choice of grounding the music with trap beats is refreshing and surprising considering his history of working with one of the best live percussionists of our time; Yussef Dayes. This stylistic choice gives the album a laid-back feel, making Shiroi perfect music to listen to whilst on the move, meditating or freestyling on. The record is simultaneously energising and calming, an aspect testament to Brown’s ability to tap into higher musical powers.