In his travels across the world as a jazz saxophonist, Swedish multi-instrumentalist Joel Wastburg experienced everything from jamming with Sean Lennon to escaping a coup d’état in Mali. ‘Digging A Tunnel’, his debut solo album under the name sir Was, draws heavily on these voyages, channelling the sounds from these adventures and turning them into musical jambalaya. On paper, combining a huge number of influences and still making a coherent record should be almost impossible.
However, Wastburg makes sure each element is subtle enough to piece together like a jigsaw, working in tandem to create a charmingly lo-fi atmosphere. It’s sometimes downbeat, but Wastburg comes into his own when he turns up the volume. The ramshackle piano on ‘Revoke’ is dramatic, while the combination of harmonica and jazz melodies on ‘Bomping’ are reminiscent of Beck’s fusion of blues and hip-hop on ‘Odelay.’ A few more bold moments like these would have been welcome, but Wastburg has still started to carve out a nice niche for himself.
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