For fans of neo-soul, funk and jazz (think J Dilla, Nujabes, Gramatik, Lauren Desberg, Todd Terje, Portico Quartet or Submotion Orchestra), Anomalie is a Canadian producer making waves, always delivering stellar beats, funky melodies and entrancing piano solos.
Nicolas Dupuis was born in Montreal and made his debut in 2016 with his Odyssée single (which, in a typically awesome SoundCloud comment, has been compared to “the Dream Theater of electronica”). In 2017, he released his first EP, Metropole. Having studied classical piano and jazz, his work is infused with incredible piano solos and improvisation technique, but what’s even better is how he manages to make all his tunes groovy and eminently danceable, through a smart combination of “high-brow” craftsmanship, sheer technical prowess and the ability to incorporate his major electronic music inspirations into his sound.
Anomalie’s love for electronic music was awakened by the synth work of producers like Skrillex and DeadMau5, artists he believed played with synths in real time in their shows (this was not the case, although there are more avant-garde DJ-producers out there who do – such as Ishome, Clara Moto, Long Arm, Klara Lewis or Hiro Kone). Anomalie also cites Herbie Hancock, Brahms, and Stravinsky in interviews, as well as being awed by Tennyson, and describes his unique sound as having, “great timing, (with) more like Dilla-esque or hip-hop drums but then with synths, production and different chords that are derived from either classical or RnB and all that is already something some people are already used to“.
Both Metropole EPs feature amazing production quality, dreamy beats, funky lead synths, and jazz-piano solos, which have a huge cumulative effect on the listener. His music is playful, but also quite demanding (not the kind of music suited for the background – unless it comes with a nice, warm cup of tea and a great book), and Anomalie is a sublime entry point into the neo-soul/jazz-hop world – one might find themselves googling that similar artists query faster than they thought, and even get sucked into the world of contemporary or classical jazz. The first Metropole is more focused on synth work, while Metropole II delivers twice as many piano improvisations, even ones which would typically find their way into larger jazz structures.
His latest album, Galerie, finds Dupuis collaborating with superstar guitarist Mateus Asato, rapper Shad, chill-hop producer/multi-instrumentalist Bad Snacks, future-soul visionary Masego and singer-songwriter India Carney. It’s a much more ambitious undertaking and a dream-collaboration between Dupuis and some of the people he has expressed his admiration for.
It feels amazing to finally hear a hugely inspiring (abstract-)rap portion over Dupuis’s melodic jazz structures on Generations (“long as you’re standing on this planet/ you’re already a champion“). Hummingbird was born out of a jam session with Bad Snacks which took place during the pandemic, and the piano work on this track transports the listener to another world – and that’s all before they even hear the violin. Masego’s soul-infused vocals and rap portions make Memory Leaves into another standout track, leading a lot of youtube commenters to suggest their own future dream collaborations, and the India Carney-featuring Untouchable sounds even better when performed live.
To close this Anomalie feature, we have prepared a playlist called “Anomalie and Friends”, featuring artists he’s cited as inspirations as well as just about everyone he’s worked with on Galerie. You can listen to it below, and it’s as jarring as a playlist containing both Elliphant & Skrillex’s Only Getting Younger and Brahms’s Symphony no. 3 in F Major (or Yuja Wang performing Stravinski on the piano, for that matter) is ever going to get, but also a way to discover a lot of incredible jazz or fusion-adjacent artists who aren’t Jacob Collier.
Featured Image is Anomaly by Sawsan Shobarjee
Bonus Reading Material: PP Art, or Photography-Painting Fusion Art
Bonus Reading material: The best Quincy Jones interview ever
Extra Bonus reading material: How Jazz Became The Mother Of Hip-Hop