BADBADNOTGOOD’s Talk Memory: 42 Minutes of Cinematic Jazz


You may know BADBADNOTGOOD from the song “Time Moves Slow”, a trending TikTok song from earlier this summer. It’s a slow and heavy song, that evokes feelings of introspection, and became the backbone to the popular Adult Swim TikTok trend. But BADBADNOTGOOD has a lot more music than just “Time Moves Slow”. 


The Toronto based group has notoriously been given the genre title of “alt-jazz”, as their previous albums have been flushed with psychedelic synths and hip-hop drumming. However, Talk Memory is an album of classic jazz sounds, and by far their most compositionally complex album.


Talk Memory is not a classic jazz album though. BBNG scatters 70’s synth sounds throughout the album as well as orchestral violin hooks all to create the effect of movement. Talk Memory undoubtedly has movement that gets translated into a cinematic effect. Each song on Talk Memory creates a story; the instrumentation and composition all work together to beautifully take the listener on a journey through their own thoughts.


The 9 minute opener, “Signal From the Noise” suspends the listener. It starts with the sound of a staticky radio output that beautifully blends into a contemporary jazz roll on the symbols. A choppy piano solo really opens the song while creating a sense of peaceful discomfort in the listener. Catchy and elegant synths and come in and pull the whole piece together. In those 9 minutes, BBNG does an extraordinary job of having instruments playing bewilderingly different and complex parts, to then playing catchy hooks in the synchronization that really gives the album its sound. The pounding drum beat gives life to the distorted guitar solo and pulls the listener into the album. 


The second track on the album “Unfolding (Momentum 73)”, begins with the peaceful ambient sound of Laraaji, a legendary ambient artist. A whirly keyboard melody plays underneath a rolling repetitive saxophone solo. The saxophone solo really starts to take off creating a disorienting feel for the listener. As stated by BBNG “I think the idea behind this title was that the human body is 73% water. And the ‘unfolding’ part refers to the fact that the main sax part sounds like it’s actually unfolding.”


“City of Mirrors” emerges from the swirly and dizzy ending of “Unfolding (Momentum 73)” with a catchy piano hook accompanied by an orchestral violin sound. This violin sound can be found throughout the album, acting as a theme for the album. “City of Mirrors” features composer Athur Verocai, who played all the string arrangements on the album, and therefore played a large role in the sound of Talk Memory. “City of Mirrors” has movement, it rolls and pounds and swings. The heavy drums act as a gravitational force to the song and listener. The moments of silence create an irresistible pulling sensation that leads into complexly synchronized instrumentation. “City of Mirrors” is complex, soothing, and gravitational.


 The fourth track, “Beside April” builds off of the soothing violins in “City of Mirrors” and encapsulates a synchronized catchy guitar hook. “Beside April” creates a strong foundation for the catchy synchronization found throughout the album. From “Beside April”’s big ending sound, creeps up the fifth track, “Love Proceeding”.


“Love Proceeding” opens with a shaky light synth and a simple drumbeat. The sweet sound of Verocai’s violins is highlighted during this song, creating a smooth-jazz serenity. “Love Proceeding” sounds like a 70’s instrumental love song meets electronic contemporary jazz. Its sound truly captures the album and the creative liberties BBNG took with this piece.


From “Love Proceeding”’s dreamy movement emerges “Timid, Intimidating”. This song is the essence of cinematic jazz. With an airy flute solo that gets chased by a bass, “Timid, Intimidating” creates an image in the listener’s mind. The instrumentation moves forward, depicting a chase. A build up of a minor flute hook and following bass line, creates the platform for a squeaky and adventurous saxophone solo to take charge. The hooks of “Timid, Intimidating” are utterly illustrating and the glittery flute lead out at the end of the song leaves the listener in a state of peaceful tranquility.


“Beside April (Reprise)” feels like slowing but happily falling into a trance. It captures serenity and simplicity. “Beside April (Reprise)” leads into the eighth and final track of Talk Memory, “Talk Meaning”. “Talk Meaning” greets the listener with a muted guitar intro, building off of the serenity of the last track. From there, more instruments come in, leading to a sax solo, underlined by scattered piano chords and a climbing harp harmony. A second saxophone then accompanies the other saxophone, creating a sense of chaotic unity amongst the instrumentation. The synchronized sound drips into a calming harp solo that wanders across the listener’s mind, and instills a sense of peace. Talk Memory brilliantly ends with a harp solo drifting off in a slow and desultrous manner.


Talk Memory explores orchestral violins, classic jazz, swirly synthesizers, and squeaky saxophones. BADBADNOTGOOD undoubtedly has control and precision with their music. Talk Memory is full of imagination and creates a rich and introspective cinematic experience. It’s a wonderfully adventurous album full of complexity. Talk Memory redefines BADBADNOTGOOD, giving them a new and evolved sound from their earlier works.


Talk Memory

01 Signal From the Noise 

02 Unfolding (Momentum 73) feat. Laraaji 

03 City of Mirrors feat. Arthur Verocai 

04 Beside April feat. Arthur Verocai

05 Love Proceeding feat. Arthur Verocai

06 Timid, Intimidating

07 Beside April (Reprise)

08 Talk Meaning feat. Terrance Martin, Brandee Younger & Arthur Verocai