Mike Masch, rapper called Moment, is an artist that we at YEDM find really dumb for missing out on all these years. Hardly a new artist, Mash has been releasing huge, boldly produced chill vibe albums since 2015 (possibly longer; we’re just assuming his band camp), but his music career dates back even further. A child prodigy of sorts, Masch began performing recitals at the age of five and has a solid base in classical, jazz and blues. After countless jobs in the music industry from DJ to label owner, Masch seems to have found his home in electronic production.
Masch’s sixth album, Return to the Boulevard, is his jazziest and chillest yet, marking a sort of culmination of his musical journey. Sort of a throwback to his groundbreaking 2017 jazz-fusion-focused album Sanguine on Amplified Boulevard, Return to the Boulevard has a similar ultra-jazzy feel, but it’s clear Masch has seen a lot of growth over the past five years. But we overtake each other.
Masch’s work started out much wilder and more intense than the smooth trip-hop we now see in Return… His first album in 2015, The New Instrumentals, unsurprisingly contained mostly instrumental/non-vocal tracks. However, the hip-hop flavor was already there, as this was clearly Masch’s “Spielen mit Elektroniker Produktion” album. However, with strong halftime, hip-hop, trap or future bass beats and theatrical sound design in all tracks, there is already a high level of skill. If he were making these beats now that the musical climate has shifted to pop and hip-hop/EDM fusion, he could have sold these tracks for a coin.
On Masch’s next album Genesis Dawn from 2016 he plays more with slightly faster beats like breakbeat and lofi house, but we see his other influences coming through as well, as many tracks are laced with classical piano and background instruments. This is probably where Masch started fusion, and then he took the plunge by pouring all his influences into Sanguine… There seemed to be no turning back from there, as his subsequent albums all had a strong funk and jazz center . However, in his 2021 albums Peace and War there’s still a strong desire to venture into rave, not-so-jazzy trip-hop and even rock, so it would be reasonable for fans of the ever-experimental masch not to have known what to do expect on return…
Going back to Return… it seems clear that Masch wanted to think back to his Sanguine fusion days. The opening track is called “Sanguine Return” after all (in case the album title wasn’t descriptive enough). For Masch, it seems to be a culmination of all his chimes to date with the strongest trip-hop vibe to date, or to use his term, jazz-hop vibe. The fusion is now fully fused too, with the jazz, funk, trip-hop and rave elements all blending perfectly into a silky smooth lofi sound bath. It is indeed immersive, as the loungy track “Immersive Funk” claims. One can almost imagine a Bryan Ferry, a Skye Edwards or, for the Zoomers, a Phoebe Bridgers singing over these tracks. Jazzhop achievement really unlocked.
It’s definitely about time those of us who love chill-rave, trip-hop and lo-fi paid attention to Mike Masch, but we shouldn’t expect him to keep the same vibe as Return to the Boulevard forever, either. Mike Masch is much more than a lofi or trip hop one note, he is actually a very, very chilled version of an experimental artist and composer. With this experimental nature, fans of nothing Masch releases should expect the same as the last one, but that’s the excitement of someone like him. It’s a very quiet excitement due to the nature of his beats, but excitement nonetheless. In the meantime, we more than recommend taking this album with you for a nice, long drive down any boulevard for maximum relaxation.
Return to the Boulevard is available now to stream on Spotify or buy on Bandcamp. For those looking for a more definitive hip-hop vibe, check out Masch’s alter ego moment.