Portland, Oregon-based Soulphonic Soundsystem, comprising producer DJ Santo and multi-instrumentalist Chauncey Canfield, emerged in recent years touring behind renowned artists such as Mark Farina, Diplo, and Bugz in the Attic, and it was simply on the strength of one single. That single, “Sonido,” featuring Geri Soriano-Lightwood of Supreme Beings of Leisure, laid the template for the Soulphonic sound, an elegant blend of Latin-flavored nu-jazz and electronica. With the group’s debut, Soulphonic develops that sound further, creating the soundtrack to the jazz club of the future. Completely organic and multicultural, Volume 1 is full of wonderfully produced lounge tunes — but very few tracks reach the heights of “Sonido.”
Soulphonic sounds best when accompanied by vocalists who help to dictate the direction. L.A. mixtress Valida turns up on “The One,” lending her delicate vocals to the ultra-cool production. Jazz keys rev up “Make It Stop” as Angelique Bianca chimes in with a gritty yet feminine vocal performance reminiscent of Corrine Bailey Rae. “Sonido” does show up here, and it remains the high point, a track that bursts at the seams with saxophone soul and South American flavor.
The rest of Volume One is pure instrumental nu-jazz. The tracks are beautifully made, but things remain too consistent throughout — although the broken beat of “Mr. Sparkle” stands out, with its skittering percussion and heavy bass lines, as does the album opener “Eastern Market,” thanks to gorgeous rolling tabla, tambourine, and other delightful fluttering sounds. With Volume One, Soulphonic Soundsystem crafted a solid debut that is perfect for that lounge atmosphere the duo seems to be going for.