London and South East, UK
Artist / Band / Musician
Soul / Pop / Jazz
Traveller Records
Detroit soul singer Velben knows every direction to the human heart. The music on his debut EP Formless operates like an elite GPS navigational system through the beautiful but uncertain terrain of love and life. One would expect no less from a man who as a youngster spent countless hours listening to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince. The grooves of these legends prompted Velben to lift his own voice and sing: at the age of sixteen he was selected to represent his high school at the prestigious Detroit All-City Male Glee and selected to compete in the city solo festival and state solo festival (at Michigan State University). These adolescent experiences provided the instruction for Velbens creative license today: Formless spotlights his ability to yield melody out of day-to-day living and voice it with harmonized fluency.

Velbens odyssey to Formless began in 1997 after he grew tired of preserving his vocal arrangements and musical ideas on a cheap karaoke machine. With a growing interest in developing a professional music career, Velben felt it was time to take his career to the next level by finding a music producer. Sidelined by the hardships of this quest, Velben sought refuge in the spoken-word/poetry scene. Still music never left his mind; this was the singers way of holding out for the right sound, i.e., music that represented his artistic ideas. That sound eventually introduced itself, when he stumbled across the Walking Large instrumental by hip-hop band, The Roots. The track had a playful but soulful vibe that I loved, says Velben. That vibe compelled him to dig out some previously written poetry and literally go with the flow. The song titled Keep It Comin was refreshing to the ears of many including gangster rap fans. Eventually, he established a creative relationship with two of hip hops elite: Jneiro Jarel and Baatin (Slum Village).

Formless (written and arranged by Velben with production by Roxstar for Cream of Beats Productions, Rise for Rise Above Music, Kim F., The Blue Mile and Sean Lane) is designed to cultivate Velbens growing listening audience and transport his music to territories beyond the US. The seven song collection anchored by crisp crooning and beautifully embellished with layer upon layer of Velbens own background vocals swoops and soars with spacey grooves and idiosyncratic rhythms that create, in the singers words, intergalactic soul. It starts out with City Soul a declaration that Detroit Soul is still a vital and essential element within todays musical landscape. The tracks warped, swelling cadence suggests a masculine, urbane swagger that’s confident but not cocky. Better Dayz clues listeners in on the artist as a man: it chronicles Velbens personal and professional growth with honest insight. Come Around muses romantic notions over a solid, thumping percussive pattern while Travelin Man is a futuristic head-bopping delight filled with ambivalent lyricism. The mellow About Love is amiable and questioning and the equally laid-back Starchild with its soft, wispy background vocalists feels like a throwback to Michael Jackson circa Off the Wall. The EP concludes with King and Queens a tune that urges black pride and awareness of cultural roots. Formless is far more cohesive than the title suggests: Its soul music realistic in its assessment of love and the conditions of todays modern world. It encourages grace and dignity. It’s music about the head, heart and spirit, not ego, bling and groin grabbing. Formless doesn’t just reach for higher ground it propels into the higher regions of the mind.
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