Over the course of the last year and a half, the Mutual Intentions crew have staked their claim in recorded music, releasing some of the most forward-thinking Hip Hop albums of recent years from the likes Ol Burger Beats and Fredfades for a host of labels working at an international level. They’ve cultivated a sound that merges the sonic palette from rarefied Jazz and Soul records with the production techniques taken from early Hip Hop. Their arrangements float like silk across the records as lyrics unpack the layers of arbitrary everyday life, discovering new depths to everything from songwriting to the joy of the first hot day of summer.
One of the most frequent voices in the Mutual Intentions diatribe is Ivan Ave, who’s graced almost every record in the crew’s discography on top of the 4 LPs he’s released as a solo artist. An intuitive lyricist with a rhythm completely unique to his artistic voice, Ivan Ave always manages to compliment the production style of his cohorts in his soulful countertenor and see-sawing metre. Featuring on records from Yogisoul, Fredfades and Ol Burger Beats over the course of this year, we’ve been patiently anticipating the follow up to 2016’s Helping Hands, Ivan Ave’s last solo album. He’s teased the release with the single “Also” and a video for “Young Eye”, tracks that take up the baton where Helping hands left off, as elements of Jazz , Soul, Hip Hop and Funk combine in one colourful diorama, with Ivan Ave’s enlightened vocal in the foreground.
Although earlier records, Breathe and Fruitful solely relied on the production magic of Frefades, Every Eye, like Helping Hands expands the pool of musical talent to include producers MNDSGN, DJ Harrison, Kiefer, Kaytranada and Dâm Funk on the line-up. This star-studded guestlist, which include the formidable Frefades too amongst them, lay down an effervescent foundation from which Ivan Ave’s words lift into the ether. There’s low grunt to the music on Every Eye that’s new to the Mutual Intentions sound, and probably the American producers like MNDSGN and DJ Harrison applying their touch to the record, which lends this record a Thundercat quality. Those fleeting jazzy moments and fully fledged arrangements, give Ivan Ave more than just a loop, and the rapper pounces on the opportunity to extend his range of rhythmical phrasing that leaves the record reading like continuous narrative rather than singular poetic lines.
Ivan Ave’s lyrics on Every Eye, in-keeping with his style, look for big-picture metaphors in the mundane, where something like locking a bike together with another can signify the beginning of a relationship. Lines like “coming through like knees in the summer” are unique, quirky and playful, but with serious intent as they carry hefty swathes of metaphorical weight behind them, for everything from his own musical career to a the current political landscape. Combine these little eccentricities with Ivan Ave’s transient rhythmical phrasing and the evanescent production quality, the songs are sporadic and it’s often difficult to determine where one song ends and another begins. As a result the albums flows from one end to the other, rather than stuttering through singles and tracks. It’s an album that needs to be experienced in its entirety from start to finish and all the small curiosities that mark the appeal of the record are, just like Ivan Ave’s lyrics, only a small part of the bigger picture that is Every Eye.