Moodymann: Forevernevermore Album Review | Pitchfork

This pragmatic hope is what gives the album its special presence. Moodymann has bluntly stated that Detroit is a city where options may seem limited, but his stated philosophy has prioritized self-reliance in response to structural conditions: “I don’t care if you sell drugs here, do it right,” he told British DJ Gilles Peterson in an interview in 2007. “I don’t care if you sell pussy here, fuck it. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.” These lessons came to Moodymann through the black church, and the power of black church music is fundamental to… Forever never again‘s magnum opus, “The Thief That Stole My Sad Days (Ya Blessin Me).” Built around a fiery sermon focused on slavery (the preacher cries out about “400 years” of slavery) and a simply unmistakable piano run, the song is house at its most spiritual. All the while, musician Debbie Welch sings to a God who makes everything right. Her singing is hypnotic and plaintive at the same time, earning every ounce of emotion she extracts from her hum and screams. After illustrating how she was helped by Jesus, a house knocker enters, propelling her as she lifts him up: “You pick me up / and you rock me.” Improvised organ played by Moodymann’s collaborator Amp Fiddler brings all this closer to a heavenly level, sending Welch sailing uphill. What more could follow from this than praise?

On “Tribute,” Moodymann pays tribute to Marvin Gaye by cutting together various bits and pieces of the soul singer’s songs and presenting them with ethereal pads and thumping, ecstatic percussion. “Tribute” touches on two pillars of Moodymann’s universe: family and music. The whole premise is based on seeing a great musician leave and realizing that there’s not much you can do but listen to the records they left behind. The song originally appeared on 1994’s The day we lost the soul EP, where it was titled “Tribute! (To the Soul We Lost)”, and followed an introductory track of the same name consisting of radio clips from the day Gaye died. According to Moodymann, even getting these clips was a family effort; when Gaye died, he and his aunt spent all day recording tribute on Detroit radio.It was mourning through conservation.

The 1994 version was built around a sample of ‘What’s Going On’. It’s more of an arrangement than anything else, consisting of Gaye’s instrumentation (altered to sound as spacious as ESG) and vocals. The sample lies just below the mix, shrouded in glowing chords and shakers. The album version is slightly different – it’s shorter and ends with a recording of what could just be a family gathering. After what sounds like a family member playing the piano dies, you hear a child sing a song they made up themselves. You hear the presence of his community, one that loves Forever never again from sounding like an ethereal collage, close to something like the KLF’s pastoral masterpiece Relax† While comfortable with abstraction, he never stays there, deeply connecting his work with Motown soul, disco, jazz and gospel.

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