The most recent solo album from Foreign Exchange producer Nicolay, City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya Nights, is a propulsive, mostly instrumental effort that deserves a much higher profile than it was afforded when it was released in 2009. From the hushed, Brian Eno-like synth work of "Satellite" to the Mr. Fingers-esque house ballad "Saturday Night," it is one of the most accomplished releases of the past few years.
One way of reminding everybody of its greatness is to reinvent it. Here, Nicolay teams up with Raleigh jazz insurgents the Hot at Nights, fresh off their debut, Nice Talk, a hybrid of genre traditionalism and casual experimental genre-bucking. In November, the pairing issued Shibuya Session, an EP that's free to download on the Foreign Exchange website. It morphed Nic's bedroom-music symphonies into living, breathing compositions for a band, who attacked them with the mix of reverence and improvisational disregard usually given to jazz standards.
The Hot at Nights are fronted by Foreign Exchange guitarist Chris Boerner, which means that between Nicolay and Boerner, some of the electro-soul group's unimpeachable professionalism and daring musicianship will be on display, too. —Brandon Soderberg