Music Review: “Shaphak” album by Idrees Oloyede

“Shaphak” – Divine Keys’ very own Idrees Oloyede‘s debut album – is an outpouring of his heart into an album of 13 songs. Idrees Oloyede is a composer, musician, producer and engineer here in the UK who has worked with artists such as Philippa Bamgboye, Joké, Spirit Led Worshipers and Lauren Milne. Growing up in church, he started playing the keyboard at a young age and today he has developed his taste for Gospel, Jazz and fusion improvisational piano. This new album was released earlier on this year as an exclusively piano composition with each song channelling the things on his heart over the period of several months.

This is what Idrees has to say about his album: “Some were conceived in the spontaneous spirit of adventure, while others capture Idrees playing as an appurtenance to the spoken word. Yet others manifested in the slumber-forsaken dead of night as the groan of his burdened heart”.

The title of the album “Shaphak” is a Hebrew word for “pour out” or “spill,” and an appropriate title for the project, as Oloyede set out to express what is on his heart. The album is a beautifully arranged set that addresses different topics and human experiences of knowing God. Oloyede was able to communicate his feelings in a beautiful and creative way, with such a distinctive ‘voice’ in his playing that allows his audiences to recognize Him in every note.

A lot of the songs sound very improvisational in the way they’ve been composed but it is also very easy to see that the intention behind each melody is very clear. There are clear inspirations from different musical genres such as Gospel, as seen through the harmonies of tracks such as ‘Our Journey’. Other tracks like ‘Just Let Me Cry Out’ seems to have captured some inspiration from cinematic arrangements while favoring certain musical intervals that gives off quite an Eastern sound to the song. As the album progresses it seems to evolve in its sound. It may be possible that the composer categorized his compositions into two parts.

While the composing style, harmony and melody of the first six tracks sound somewhat similar to each other, the following six seems to carry a different arrangement style, with simpler harmonies and melodies. They give off a different atmosphere for the listener. However, this change is very subtle and is unclear if it is an intentional shift.

To keep things interesting, Oloyede incorporated numerous non-diatonic harmonies in his songs. This make each song less predictable and more engaging as a whole. With different musical modes used, he was able to better communicate emotions and interpret them appropriately to create an atmosphere for each of the unique songs. Oloyede is both gentle and sincere with his arrangements, an enjoyable and refreshing experience, before ending with a reprise of the first songs ‘All I have I Pour It Out’. 

Since this is an instrumental album, a lot of the arrangements are open to interpretation by the listener. However, when listening to this album, keep in mind the title of each song, this would help listeners engage and interpret the song in a way that closely resembles the vision of the artist. In the end, this is a beautiful album from Oloyede, written with intent behind each song. Each track creates a different atmosphere for the listener and seems intent on transporting you to a different location or encouraging you to engage with different emotions. For any fans of beautiful, slow and chilled soundtracks, this album is for you, but keep your senses sharp to hear the meaning behind each track as well. 

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