Cinematic and exploratory, Moses Sumney’s ‘græ: Part 1’ is the work of a master

Cinematic and exploratory, Moses Sumney’s ‘græ: Part 1’ is the work of a master

Photo by Eric Gyamfi
Words by Scott Hudson

A solitary note plays and a voice announces, “Isolation comes from ‘insula’ which means island”. This is how græ: Part 1 begins.

Sonic elements build around the voice, “Here we go into the græ” (pronounced grey), and we are swept into Sumney’s world.

græ: Part 1 flows start to finish without any breaks or clunky transitions. The interludes, indicated by their lowercase letters – ‘insula’, ‘boxes’, ‘jill/jack’, ‘also also also and and and’ – offer a story, but maintain the musicality with beautiful instrumentals building and flowing underneath the vocals, which discuss issues of identity and equal rights.

Despite the seamless flow of the album, the tracks manage to avoid sounding monotonous. Track number four ‘Virile’ stands out as an energetic jazz tune, with ever-evolving elements and intensity woven around Sumney’s signature vocal range and thought-provoking lyricism. Then there’s ‘Conveyor’, which like most of græ: Part 1, feels like a big-budget movie soundtrack. It brings up the energy in the room and portrays an environment of power and conflict.

‘Colouour’ begins with a vibrant jazz instrumental blending horns, strings and piano, before stripping back and letting Sumney’s voice encapsulate your very essence. It seems like a vast jump from ‘Conveyor’, and despite its position three tracks later (two of which are interludes), it fits like a glove.

græ: Part 1 is the work of a master. The way Sumney blends instruments and creates a sonic story is notable enough, but his vocal range and poise in addition to his lyricism make each song individually memorable and this project unforgettable.

With part two arriving in May, we’ll be waiting to see where Sumney’s music goes next.