Nabil Muquit – ‘The Only Way Out Is Up’

A striking instrumental album from Nabil Muquit, The Only Way Out Is Up explores a nocturnal atmospheric appeal in its meshing of downtempo hip-hop, jazz, and lounge-friendly pursuits. Raised in Philadelphia and later going to school in New Orleans, the classically trained multi-instrumentalist compels throughout with striking songwriting and production, complementing his abilities with saxophone and keys.

“I wanted to create a record that was more of a left turn from the traditional jazz and neo-soul music coming out now,” Muquit explains. “This record takes the listener through a journey of reflection and exploration with something bigger than themselves.”

“Pieces Of A Dream” opens the album with a smooth, late-night appeal. A funky bass line and glimmering synths tout a starry-eyed intrigue, traversing with steady cohesion into the subsequent “Zero Degrees.” There, faint twinkling settles into a subdued melding of lounge-friendly piano and hip-hop percussion; the atmosphere throughout the track is palpable, and an ideal fit for long nighttime drives.

Another standout, “Honor” balances radiant synth pulses with absorbing lushness. A calming bass line shows warmness alongside mellow synth work, reminding fondly of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s more electronic-directed works. The album’s second half maintains the gripping production. “Neo-Expressionist” intertwines wordless vocal effects with sporadic percussion and lulling synths for a mesmerizing impact, while the finale “P&P” gracefully blends funky bass and gentle piano. The Only Way Out Is Up is a blissfully atmospheric album from Nabil Muquit.

“Honor is also featured in the genre-based, best-of Spotify compilation Rainy Days and Late Nights.

We discovered this release via MusoSoup, as part of the artist’s promotional campaign.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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