Optimace is the collaboration between Dutch deejays/producers Optimus and Mace. They previously collaborated on Fremdkunst, the first release put out on Fremdtunes. This EP shows what great chemistry they have, creating instrumental hip hop that covers a wide range of styles and emotions.

When I first played Used Future, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As electric piano and saxophone came in and built riffs off of each other, I was a little worried. Not because anything sounded bad, but because a start like that can go one of two ways – the beat can drop and things get kicked up a notch, or we get mired in music that doesn’t really do anything interesting. Fortunately, as I was contemplating different jazz/hip hop-hybrids I’ve listened to and the different levels of success they achieve, the drums hit and I knew we’d be fine.

Mace and Optimus have a good feel for a groove, and build song structure by varying riffs and playing with instrumentations. They don’t keep it on one stroke, either – one song will be down tempo; the next will be some hard-hitting, aggressive funk. There is an overall jazz and hip hop flavor to the the album, with saxophone and upright bass providing the common ground between tracks. The laid back groove of “Arthur’s Day Off” is already becoming one of my favorite summer jams, and it’s only April. Seriously, that song sounds great in your car with the windows down. Ask my neighbors.

The secret weapon on this album is Belgium saxophonist Erwin Vann. A saxophone player on top of instrumental tracks could give way to a bunch of meandering solos, but Vann stays very much inside the song structure, providing little flairs and licks that play well against record scratching, keyboards, and bass. It adds just the right amount of spice to an already solid foundation.

I hope Optimus and Mace keep working together, because Used Future is a fantastic EP. In seven songs, they provide us with a very fulfilling listening experience. A great effort all around.