Onyx Collective – Lower East Suite Part Three

New York jazz troupe Onyx Collective release their debut album, Lower East Suite Part Three and manage to capture contemporary urban discord

Album Review by Eugenie Johnson | 18 Jun 2018
  • Onyx Collective – Lower East Suite Part Three
Album title: Lower East Suite Part Three
Artist: Onyx Collective
Label: Big Dada
Release date: 15 Jun

New York jazz troupe Onyx Collective have lent their live talents to everyone from rappers such as Wiki and Princess Nokia to Dev Hynes and Nick Hakim. After releasing two EPs and recently supporting Kamasi Washington, they’re now taking an even bigger step as their own individual entity by releasing debut album Lower East Suite Part Three. They’re doing so on their own terms though, using their own engineer and a self-confessed low budget, toeing the line between the traditional and the experimental.

Compared to some of their previous works, it’s an album that also feels somewhat gloomy with Isaiah Barr’s thoughts on issues such as gentrification and eviction distilled into dark and often murky compositions. Nodding to those very themes, Battle of the Bowery indeed feels like it has a militaristic stomp, one that only gets more intense and urgent as the tempo continually increases. Barr’s saxophone is what really propels the album, whether through more languid passages or piercing runs. While this loose sax can be as immersive as it is challenging, sometimes this means the percussion and bass feel overshadowed. This can be frustrating when the percussive clatter and dynamic bass sitting alongside the saxophone on the likes of FDR Drive feels vital. Despite this, Lower East Suite Part Three still manages to capture contemporary urban discord.

Listen to: FDR Drive