Tokyo Dawn Records, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Tensei is the musical vehicle for esteemed Chicago producers Chris Kramer and Midas Wells. The duo brings many different guest musicians and vocalists to Constellate, as they fuse countless ideas into their hip-hop template that is never short on creativity and very long on lasting power.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Liquid Tongues,” with A. Billi Free on vocals, gets the album off to a soulful start with plenty of ambience and shimmering beauty with harps in attendance from Brandee Younger. “What If” continues the lush atmosphere with a strong beat and plenty of grooves in an R&B and hip-hop influenced track. Liv Warfield (of Prince's New Power Generation) lends her inimitable pipes here as graceful cellos punctuate the affair.

After a fluid and dynamic beginning, the setting moves into gorgeous areas with “Amazing,” where Sam Trump provides smooth vocals and trumpet to a dreamy, playful environment that tips its hat to the early days of R&B, and “Never Alone” brings us to a reggae meets quick rapping offering with Suliaman and Khari Lemuel at the helm.

The later tracks gift us “Baby,” with AdaD & Jimetta Rose, the alluring saxophones and cultured rhythms of “Ask Them,” where Yaw & Najite Olokun Prophecy handle vocals duties, and the quick album exits on “Telemetry (Midas Mix)” which recruits Kiara Lanier & Kafele.

While seven tracks might not appear enough for a collaboration of this magnitude, there's so much going on here, from jazz to house to soul and with plenty of electronic and hip-hop influences, Constellate allows plenty of thriving artists to shine while still being held together by the very capable hands of Tensei, who have been working together for a decade now.

This is a record that's as striking and aesthetically pleasing as its cover art. The vinyl version of this one is quite limited, but worth the investment not only for the eclectic music but visually stimulating packaging, too.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2019 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tokyo Dawn Records, and is used for informational purposes only.