Ikey Likes It!
If your day job is working for spastic rockers The Mars Volta, one would imagine that you would need to chill out and unwind a little in your free time. So is the case with Isaiah “Ikey” Owens. When not jamming with the MV or one of his many other collaborations, Owens finds time to explore more laid back, jazzy hip-hop influenced jams with his project Free Moral Agents. Everybody’s Favorite Weapon is the soundtrack to the afterhours lounge in Owens’s head, and this time everyone is invited.Free Moral Agents combines influences from yesterday and tomorrow, seamlessly blending smooth jazz and Motown sounds with trip-hop, electronica and hip-hop tricks and beats. The radio friendly tracks “Lay Down,” featuring the velvety vocals of Mendee Ichikawa, is reminiscent of the Sneaker Pimps or Dan the Automator’s project Lovage. Ichikawa does a duet with rapper J on “Gem From A Broken Rock,” a track that answers the question “What would Portishead sound like doing hip hop?” On more abstract mood pieces like “What’s Your Blood Gauge?” and the title track, Owens experiments with textured arrangements that sound like they were partially synthesized on a Nintendo.
The gentle touch of producer Jeff Harris helps bring all these pieces together into a masterful sound and style collage that is sure to turn the heads of fans of Prefuse 73’s Scott Herren. Likewise snippets of spoken word delivered throughout the album will draw the attention of those familiar with Saul William’s flow.
Owens doesn’t spend much time trying to compose verse-chorus-verse song structures, instead focusing on weaving together his many influences to create a solid album experience instead of just a collection of songs.