Talkhouse Weekend Playlist: Underwater Jazz with Ash Walker

Strap on some headphones and join us for this deep sea musical journey.

As a DJ and a collector of jazz, blues, soul, funk, and reggae, it’s no surprise Ash Walker’s sound has a myriad of influences and genres that’s hard to pin down. There are touches of astral jazz, broken beat rhythms, and even a splash of dub. His latest album even takes on a cosmic “underwater jazz” vibe. He writes about the transformation for Aquamarine: “My previous albums have felt to me more like ventures on land. This one feels more like a deep sea voyage into the subconscious.” We wanted to dive deeper into this underwater feeling, so we asked Ash for an introduction to “underwater jazz.”
—Keenan Kush, Talkhouse Operations Manager

Here are some of the tracks that inspired me when writing Aquamarine. All of them have one thing in common: Jazz is at the heart of them, whether it inspired them or they inspired it! I’ve called this playlist “Underwater Jazz.” Enjoy! X

The Dub Station — “King Tubby Meets the Aggrovators at Dub Station”
All hail the King. One of my all time favorite producers, I just wish I could have been alive to see him do his thing. Teaming up with the mighty Aggrovators, one of the finest backing bands; combined it’s sheer perfection. Deep bass and sharp piercing horns with Tommy McCook on sax, it sounds like the coming of the apocalypse.

Bongo Herman & Bingy Bunny — “Roots And Soul”
The legendary Jamaican percussionist duo have played on so much music that has inspired me from The Congos to Jimmy Cliff and Sizzla and Gyptian, and I felt it fitting to feature one of their tracks. Very spacey and embodies that foggy underwater vibe.

Ethiopians — “Condition Bad A Yard”
The Ethiopians were the soundtrack to my later teenage years and every time I hear any of their tracks I’m elevated straight back there. The vocals are soft and supple, and the guitar with gentle the percussive touches gently drift you through the track like one floating out to sea.

Lord Kitchener — “Alfonso In Town”
Having Trini roots, the sound of calypso for me is like coming home. Who wouldn’t love massive brass, carnivals, and ten thousand tons of positive of energ?. Lord Kitchener is a massive inspiration to me whose sheer volume of quality work never ceases to amaze me.

Blind Willie Johnson — “Trouble Will Soon Be Over”
Such a truly unique voice, one of my all time favorite blues singers. His songs had a real simplicity, and with such a painful but inspiring life story, listening to him can really transport you to another place. I remember finding out about him while I was at uni, I was lent a book to read on the blues… Little did I know, it was to change my life forever.

Orchestre Du Baobab — “Kelen Ati Len”
Such a big fan of real hard grooves, and this mid-’70s Senegalese leg shaker is exactly the kind of thing I want to hear when digging in record shops looking for inspiration. One hundred percent steez.

Zia — “Helelyos”
I stumbled across this track on a ’60s and ’70s Persian psych, funk, and folk compilation called Pomegranates. The moment I put the record on I couldn’t stop jamming. Beautifully recorded and arranged, and has a real powerful energy to it. That drummer’s groove with that percussionist is dangerously dope 😉

Robert Vanderbilt & The Foundations Of Soul — “A Message Especially From God”
This is my bag. A big, smoky, hazy, downtempo funk groove with some tasty buttery vocals slathered on top. Such a charmingly recorded and tastefully written, perhaps even under appreciated, piece of music. Music to make you feel kris.

Smoke — “Shelda”
1973 has to be for me one of the finest years in modern music history for me. The balance between multi-track recording, synthesis and live instrumentation; and the dawn of digital embracing analog resulted in some real tasty music. Smoke are a band I discovered late one night by accident while listening to music in the studio between recording. This album has since been on the top of my most played pile at home and I can’t see it going anywhere else.

Nick Hakim — “Pour Another”
Stumbled across this track about five years ago, shortly after it came out, and it blew me away. Not only for the gigantic production, perfect fuzz and hum and spectacularly well written lyrics, but also its almost timeless sound. A true modern masterpiece, and a big part of the inspiration for my track Sanity ft. Laville.

(Photo Credit, left: Dan Medhurst)