Roxton Met Herki’s Slightly Ajar is an all-encompassing acoustic compendium.
More than a meet, greet and clink of drinks, the body of work that is Slightly Ajar was born out of a mutual love for music shared between singer-songwriter Josh Roxton and percussion-extraordinaire Herman ‘Herki’ Vercuiel. When Roxton met Herki, the former already had a solo album under his belt (We Are the Architect, circa 2015) and their meeting turned out to be the catalyst for this exponentially evolving sound.
Although their bar rendezvous might not go down in history (ala Paul McCartney meeting the then Quarrymen member John Lennon), nor launch the duo into pop-rock stardom, their connection certainly chimes with a similar force of attraction. Forget fame, Roxton’s purpose is to etch his name in the music minds of those that appreciate good, down to moon, honest, and above all, real music. “From the smell of the wood of my guitar, to the taste of steel strings on my fingers, and the feeling of the notes resonating in my chest so close to my heart… I just love making music!” And it’s this musical compulsion that filters through the record.
Just like their encounter at a bar counter, Roxton Met Herki hit it off with the listener on opening track, Cliffs And Faces. A chorus of soul-searching lyrics, sharp strumming and drumming portray a fleeting journey through life: “Well maybe we’re made for something, or perhaps we’re here to journey through, a cosmic ride of bloodshed…”. Got To Move is an upbeat, stop-start jam that strikes a chord with the listener adrift on their own journey. The guitaring fires-up this locomotive of a song until it gradually gains momentum and chugs on at a steady pace. The percussion is the steam engine scuttling over the tracks, the tambourine rings like something rattling among the luggage, while the choo-choo-ing vocalisations add to its profoundness.
Most of the song structures are made up of multiple parts – staccato-like vocalisations, changes in tempo and dramatic crescendos find their way into many of the songs, leaving the listener wandering in its wake. But this mutually-beneficial effort ties the loose fittings of whistles, looping vocals and unconventional instruments into meticulous rhythmic patterns – Roxton’s vocal harmonies, strings and strums are seamlessly fused with Herki’s dynamic beats of his skin-slapping cajón-come-kick-drum.
Roxton Met Herki don’t follow the folk formula (one listen of City of Rust or The Sun and you’ll know) – there’s no Kumbaya camp-fire sing-alongs on Slightly Ajar. The duo emits unorthodox, transcendent African folk, a capella, and acoustic rhythms with lyricism that is congruent with a life in limbo, constant seeking, and close-but-not-quite-there scenarios. It’s also difficult to comprehend that just two musicians can mould such a sound!
Stand-out tracks: Got To Move, Slightly Ajar, Cliffs And Faces
Buy Slightly Ajar now!