Following in the footsteps of eclectic soul producers such as 4Hero, Eric Lau, and even the great Quincy Jones, Los Angeles’ Astral22 aka Armand Tulumello has brought together a talented assortment of vocalists and created his own unique vision of soul. The resulting album, Imperial, is a majestic feat in progressive soul featuring moments of sheer brilliance and more than a few breakout performances from the cast of rising stars.
With a handpicked selection of artists that includes La Sonya Gunter, Rogiers, and Stephanie Renee to name just a few, Astral22 paints a tapestry that embraces traditional soul, future soul, and spoken word in equal doses. The production throughout the album mostly remains in the downtempo grown and sexy vein but stretches into broken beat on the “Ism” rework featuring Heidi Martin and the equally gorgeous “Silent Prayer” with vocals by LeNora Jaye. La Sonya Gunter delivers an outstanding vocal performance on “Ready For Love”, her style gelling perfectly with Astral 22’s casual yet impeccable production. It all comes together on the brilliant “From Me To You”, a funky little future soul number featuring Shanell Rene’e that will recall the stylings of Eric Lau. Produced with precision and skill and with an instantly catchy hook, the track remains the album’s highpoint.
Coming strong out of the gate, Astral22 is sure to be an in demand producer on the soul circuit. If this first collection of progressive soul is any indicator, Imperial marks the debut of an impressive new talent.
- Norman Mayers