The thing I least anticipated about reaching my early-twenties, is the recurring sense of frustration that I feel when I discover a talented and successful artist is the same age as me. Put it this way: it’s hard not to begrudge Tom Misch his success when we were both born in 1995 but only one of us is beginning a two-month European and North American tour.
I take solace only in the fact that Tom Misch’s success is well-earned. His popularity is undoubtedly deserved. His show in The Venue at Glasgow’s Oran Mor is testament to this popularity, particularly among young people who comprise most of the crowd. Their singing and enthusiasm for his brand of relaxed J Dilla-esque jazz is indication that they don’t feel bitter about his age. Any of the bitterness I once held towards the very successful 22-year-old dissipates as Tom Misch begins his 90 minute set with ‘The Journey’, the lo-fi violin-looping opener to Beat Tape 2.
The set continues with ‘Colours of Freedom’, a guitar frilled dance track and ‘I Wish’ a slower blend of lounge-style jazz and hip-hop beats punctuated by a funky walking bassline. ‘It Runs Through Me’, Misch’s newest bossa-inspired single from the upcoming debut album (Geography, to be released April 2018) is one of Misch’s many crowd-pleasers throughout the show. Others include the instrumental cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ (the crowd provides the vocals) and later he brings his sister, actor Polly Misch, to the stage for ‘Movie’, where she recreates the dialogue from the start of the song.
The mellow, grooving twist which he applies to various genres- funk, soul, hip-hop and smooth jazz to name a few- is perhaps derived from 15 year old Misch’s love of producer J Dilla. Jaydee’s chill, head-bobbing brand of hiphop, for example, is echoed in the lowkey beats which underscore all of Tom Misch’s music. Misch has, naturally, also accrued other musical influences since 15. An example is ‘Tick-Tock’, a new song from Geography, in which the influence of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ is audible. The song wells up in a crescendo of violin and the ticking of a clock, building up to fill the room before finally breaking into an upbeat dance track.
Tom Misch’s eclectic inspirations are perhaps both a boon and a hindrance. On the one hand, it allows him to explore and experiment with a wide range of musical sources. On the other hand, it means that his music occasionally veers toward being poor imitations of other artists’ sounds. Tom Misch is a young artist, yet to define a sound that is truly his. The music that he makes is agreeable if not second-hand, but he has a passion for beat-making and a knack for crowd-pleasing which will no doubt improve with age. This I cannot begrudge him