Way West


XOA, led by London-based producer and musician Nick Tyson, releases their debut album Way West on Five Easy Pieces. XOA means to look outwards, to draw inspiration from many sources. Way West is alive with this: steeped in the rich analog sonics of the past, the warmth of machines and influence from the sounds of London's fervent music scene. Featuring a blend of contemporary electronic production and live instrumentation, '70s Afrobeat-inspired drums and cosmic melodies are thrust into the present day with strong cues from house and techno. Three vocalists contribute across the album, with Tyson choosing to work with singers with whom he has a personal admiration and friendship. Hollie Cook, known to many for her ethereal pop-tinged reggae, delivers a sumptuous contribution on "Heartland," adding a beautiful emotional dimension to the horn-led track. Lulu Jones' vocals are treated more as a sample for the garage-tinged "Call On Me" and Ruby Wood, of Submotion Orchestra, has worked with Tyson over a number of projects and their shared love of '90s soul comes to the fore on the laid-back grooves and sun-kissed "Only One Thing." Says Tyson, "when collaborating, especially with vocalists on melodic and lyrical ideas, it's important to have that personal connection and respect for each other's craft. That's why I never ask vocalists to prepare anything in advance for the tracks; I like to get in the room and just see what happens in the moment, to trust each other's ideas, and for it to be a natural, organic and spontaneous process". Collaboration has always been at the heart of the project for Tyson. He plays the bulk of the instruments on the album but invites Marijus Aleksa on drums to provide live energy, extra synth work from Parisian Kenzo Zurzolo, and a notable Rhodes solo from Johnny Tomlinson (a member of Bonobo's live band) on "Osu." After well-received releases on Soundway Records, Cin Cin (with Wayward) and Banana Hill (with Contours); Way West shows another step up for Tyson as a writer and producer.