Romare's debut LP, Projections, is a perfect fit as the newest fixture on the ever-eclectic Ninja Tune label. Taking his name from Romare Bearden, an American artist fluent in collage work, Romare's latest, Projections, follows a similar frequency — playing with mediums, bridging genres and celebrating elements from all corners of the music spectrum. His deft-handed, inconspicuous approach is why it works, almost coming across as a skilled weaving of a Late Night Tales compilation, the track and style shifts so seamless that you don't realize until midway through the album that it sounds markedly different from the beginning.
Romare Bearden was an artist and musician who chronicled African-American life and culture during the jazz age. Romare is an artist and musician who has adopted Bearden’s collagist approach and uses it to fuse decades of African-American musical styles into a format familiar to modern dancefloors. It’s an album full of warmth: Rainbow pairs a snatch of smoky, soulful vocal with the groove of old garage house; Roots mixes an ecstatic piano hook with African drum loops and a sample of Malcolm X.
What do a London-based electronic music producer and the Afrocentric American cultural movement of the ‘20s known as the Harlem Renaissance have in common? Glad you asked. Romare the producer takes his stage name from Romare Bearden, the African-American painter who was a part of said Harlem Renaissance, along with the writer Langston Hughes, the activist W.E.B. Du Bois, and many others.
"I wanted to make a sort of musical essay," Romare has said of his productions, "where the samples would act like footnotes and convey a particular theme to the listener. " A white London-based producer who has spent time in Paris, Archie Fairhurst approaches his subject matter—black, particularly African American, culture—with the detached authority of an academic. His name references the African American artist Romare Bearden, whose collages depicted the turbulence of black American life before, during and after the Civil Rights Movement.
Going by the absence of levity in the way he presents himself and his work, Archie Fairhurst evidently has an angle on appropriation that is less crass than that of countless European dance music producers (the misleadingly named Amsterdam duo Detroit Swindle, for two). Indeed, Fairhurst studied African-American visual culture and boldly, or perhaps crazily, took the name Romare -- after the exceptional artist, author, and songwriter Romare Bearden -- as a way to pay tribute and signify his own collagist method. EPs released on Black Acre in 2012 and 2013 were packaged in sleeves featuring predominantly black casts of figures like Malcolm X, Miles Davis, Pam Grier, and -- huh! -- James Ingram.