Mike Masch, rapper name Moment, is an artist we at YEDM really feel stupid for missing all these years. Hardly a new artist, Mash has been releaing huge, boldly-produced chill vibe albums since 2015 (possibly longer; we’re just going by his Bandcamp), but his music career goes back even farther than that. A child prodigy of sorts, Masch was performing piano recitals at the age of five and has a solid base in classics, jazz and blues. After loads of jobs in the music industry from DJ to label owner, it seems when Masch found electronic production, it seems he also found his home.
Masch’s sixth album Return to the Boulevard is his jazziest and most chill yet, it represents a culmination of sorts of his musical journey. A sort of recall of his seminal album, 2017’s jazz fusion-heavy Sanguine on Amplified Boulevard, Return to the Boulevard has a similar ultra-jazzy feel, but it’s clear there’s been lots of growth from Masch in the last five years. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Masch’s work started out much more ravey and intense than the smoothed out trip hop we now see in Return… His first album in 2015, The New Instrumentals featured, unsurprisingly, mostly instrumental/non-vocal tracks. The hip hop flavor was there already, however, as this was clearly Masch’s “playing with electronic production” album. There’s already a high level of skill there, however, with strong halftime, hip hop, trap or future bass beats and theatrical sound design in all the tracks. If he were to make these beats now as the musical climate has shifted to pop and hip hop/EDM fusion, he could have sold these tracks at a mint.
Coming to Masch’s next album, 2016’s Genesis Dawn, he plays more with slightly faster beats like breakbeat and lofi house but we also see his other influences coming through as many tracks are laced with classical piano and background instrumentals. This is where the fusion likely began for Masch, and then he took the leap with incorporating all his influences on Sanguine… From there it seemed there was no turning back, as his subsequent albums all had a heavy funk and jazz center. There’s still a heavy desire to venture out into rave, not-so-jazzy trip hop and even rock in his 2021 albums Peace and War, however, so it would be reasonable for fans of the ever-experimenting Masch to not have known what to expect on Return…
Returning to Return…, it seems clear that Masch wanted to hearken back to his fusion days of Sanguine. The opening track, after all, is called “Sanguine Return” (in case the album title wasn’t a big enough clue). It seems to be a culmination for Masch of all his sound play thus far with the strongest trip hop or, to use his term, jazz hop, vibe thus far. The fusion is now fully fused as well, with the jazz, funk, trip hop and rave elements all blending perfectly into a silky smooth lofi sound bath. It is, indeed, immersive as the loungy track “Immersive Funk” claims. One can almost picture a Bryan Ferry, a Skye Edwards or, for the Zoomers, a Phoebe Bridgers singing over these tracks. Jazzhop achievement truly unlocked.
It’s clearly past time that those of us who love chill rave, trip hop and lofi to pay attention to Mike Masch, but we also shouldn’t expect him to stay on the same vibe as Return to the Boulevard forever. Much more than a lofi or trip hop one-noter, Mike Masch is actually a very, very chill version of an experimental artist and composer. With that experimental nature, fans shouldn’t expect the same as the last for anything Masch releases, but that’s the excitement of someone like him. It’s a very calm excitement due to the nature of his beats, but excitement nonetheless. In the meantime, we more than recommend taking this album out for a nice, long ride on any boulevard for maximum chill.
Return to the Boulevard is out now and can be streamed on Spotify or purchased on Bandcamp. For those looking for a more definitively hip hop vibe, check out Masch’s alter ego Moment.