There’s always been a distinct spiritual side to Hiroshi Watanabe’s records. Some of them – I’m thinking distinctively of “Soul Traveler” and the rest of “Sync Positive” here – sound less like records made for small currency transactions and dancefloor utility than for a man trying to sort out the static from some kind of soulful yearning through his music. That whole Steely Dan-inspired poolside lounge that’s been making the festival circuit snooze for the last three years seems childish in comparison.

Of course, it also helps that it bangs… and it’s probably on the latter count that Derrick May decided to turn the spotlight on to Hiroshi for the Multiverse EP. Hiroshi is one of three artists showcased by the legendary Transmat imprint for their 30th anniversary, and Multiverse is an exquisitely crafted credit to May’s resilient ear for talent and sounds. This is sort of a “concept record,” to hear Watanabe tell it, and it’s exquisitely illustrated by Abdul Quadim Haqq who has been illustrating the sound of modern Detroit for decades now with sleeves for Underground Resistance, Rick Wade’s Harmonie Park and more.

Out: On vinyl from Juno.

Published first in 5 Mag Issue #127, February 15 2016