Album Review: ArtScience - Robert Glasper Experiment

“The reality is my people have given the world so many styles of music…so why should I just confine myself to one? We want to explore them all”

– Robert Glasper

I first heard of Robert Glasper when I was in the 11th grade. My god-brother had given me Glasper’s trio album In My Element on my flash drive (old school, I know), and quite frankly, I thought it was the best album ever. Seriously.  In My Element was compelling because it was Jazz, it was Hip-Hop, it was R&B, and it was Gospel – all of the things I could relate to musically.  As a millennial, my introduction to Jazz wasn’t through Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, or Charles Mingus. My introduction to Jazz was through Robert Glasper.

On September 16th The Robert Glasper Experiment released their 5th album ArtScience.  This album serves as a response to those that would like to musically place Glasper in a box; a response to police brutality; a love letter, and a message of hope. With no featured vocalists, the album also sees the Experiment enter new territory, musically.  Tapping into each member’s individual influences, and wide musical palette, ArtScience plays like a playlist of Theolonious Monk, Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Herbie Hancock and more.

It’s not fair. We should let other people live – we should let other ants live, other animals live, and other humans live. Let’s try to make the police better, let’s try to make them like real police that help….We stand up for freedom, nothing like this. Nobody wants this like this, and if the police stand up for freedom? I’m going to be proud, very proud.

– Riley Glasper, Robert Glasper’s Son, during an interlude on Find You

ArtScience opens with This is Not Fear, a fiery, fast-paced acoustic Jazz tune with little [musical] form, initially, led by saxophonist Casey Benjamin belting out a flurry of notes that transitions into a smoother, electric style of Jazz many Glasper fans have become accustomed to. Following This is Not Fear, the band transitions into a smooth, R&B track Thinkin Bout You led by Glasper himself on vocals, something he’s previously shied away from. ArtScience also sees the band venture into more ballads – You and Me, Let’s Fall In Love, and thanks to the help of guitarist Mike Severson, the band was able to achieve an edgier Rock sound, as well as helping out the upbeat dance track Day to Day with his rhythm guitar, reminiscent of Nile Rogers. As is common for the Experiment, the album features strong improvisation on tracks like No One Like You, Tell Me a Bedtime Story, and Find You. ArtScience closes with Human, a song about making mistakes in life, and that being okay. As the music retards and comes to an end, a hidden track plays a slow, swing-styled rhythm, acoustic instruments, and walking bassline, and the album closes as it began.