Quality producer albums are hard to come by these days. Why? Quite simply because the generic formula is getting old.
A producer uniting numerous up-to-the-minute artists over a varying selection of beats, only to come away with a jumbled and forgettable body of work that never transpires to become anything but a handful of highlighted individual performances. When I pressed play on K-Murdock’s “Piano-rama”, I figured that I already knew what to expect. Fortunately, I was wrong.
Washington DC’s own K-Murdock is a well-established music producer in his own right after earning widespread recognition as one-half of the alternative hip-hop duo Panacea. Known for his deeply soul-inspired rhythms and jazzy undertones, K-Murdock aspired to make one of his gifted attributes – the use of the piano – as the central focus of his latest solo album. Featuring a countless number of talented MCs and soul singers from The ParanormL to Wes Felton, “Piano-rama” is a free-flowing musical journey that consistently extends its path toward new audible experiences, all while returning to a common thread of mesmerizing piano melodies at the same time.
A play on the word panorama, “Piano-rama” intends to display a full-fledged view of the piano as a diverse and versatile musical instrumental. The album clearly shows its true potential on R&B-driven tracks such as “The Chosen” and “Hello Light”, featuring Megan Livingston and Fuzz & Mac, respectively, where K-Murdock’s silky backdrops naturally lift the singers’ vocals to an entirely new level. In fact, it wouldn’t have bothered me if K-Murdock recorded “Piano-rama” as a complete R&B album, but by no means does that degrade the level of excellent hip-hop exercised on the project – there’s plenty to go around. “Concrete Jungle” is a personal ode to Detroit’s troubled streets expressed by The Regiment’s forceful lyrics, which contrast nicely with K-Murdock’s pleasantly rolling piano backdrop. The LP’s closing song, “The Gauntlet”, is an intriguing record featuring Random and Raw Poetic of Panacea where, for once, a steady drum pattern takes charge instead of black and white keys.
Spread throughout the album are three instrumental interludes, labeled as ‘instro-ludes’, which stand as nice break points in-between overall mood changes. K-Murdock really switches things up after “Instro-lude #2 (IGYB)” where an assortment of spoken word and jazz tracks surge right into “Instro-lude #3 (Mirage)”: by far the chillest ‘instro-lude’ out of the bunch. As a piano player myself, I adored the project’s overall running theme right from the start. All-in-all, K-Murdock successfully pushed the boundaries with “Piano-rama” by challenging the standard producer album and willfully making it his own.