Electronica with a soulful twist intricately recorded co-produced and co-written with José James drummer Richard Spaven the McCallum approach is adventurous with lots of different pick-up and drop off points in a ride around the city, or ci-teeehh, like a terrace chant the mantra of the title track insisting he fell in love with that ci-teeehh surrounded in turn by fast disappearing and equally quick reappearing beats and siren-like riffs drawing you in.
Liberally coated in chill-out and even folky atmospheres City is a record that also has a strong vocals input. But there’s also organic acoustic guitar currents flowing in like a hidden river under some concreted-over flyover say at the beginning of ‘Inhale’ and then a poignant theme to the piece, unforced melody spooling into a bespoke pastoral vision a northern dream away from a Pat Metheny sound.
With McCallum are bass guitarist Robin Mullarkey returning from Distilled, highly tasteful EST-influenced Trichotomy pianist Sean Foran popping up on Rhodes electric piano plus an array of input from guest singers, JP Cooper, Sharlene Hector, Fridolijn Van Poll and Sophie Barker.
McCallum journeys well away from his jazz roots comfort zone on the eerie ‘Effergy’ and on ‘Trio Seven’ draws on a sample of Kris Drever from Lau, folding in the folky side for a neat fit and there’s a melodic figure emerging on this track that you’d swear is about to roll into Ornette’s ‘Lonely Woman’ but somehow shoots off into a naked sky. The album is at its best here, Spaven and McCallum vibing off each other and a real momentum convenes around pasture-sweet bucolic vamps and swells of electronics, soupy fogs of sound banking up in swift, cloudy intakes.
‘Said and Done’ is the most ethereal of the vocals, a certain float to Sophie Barker’s vocal. But ultimately the vocals play second fiddle to the teeming instrumental narratives, Spaven’s fractured drum style on ‘Mk II’, a dimming and alternating glare of electronics here that by turn shimmers and dazzles amid the hurtling shuffles and fills.
Released on 28 August