Hard Rain follows hot-on-the-heels from the acclaimed Ruby Rushton album Ironside, but whereas contemporary urban jazz was the focus there, Tender’s solo record marks a return to another of the multifaceted artist’s skills: dope house and beat music that oozes futuristic funk. This sparse but perfectly-populated masterpiece takes inspiration from J Dilla and echoes elements of vintage Blaze, Larry Heard and Carl Craig. Warm and soulful, but also spacious and clean, Tender extracts maximum flavour out of just a few ingredients. Casey Jr. kicks proceedings off with a neck-snapping bass heavy p-funk monster, like Slum Village or Platinum Pied Pipers by way of Surrey and onwards to south London. Real electro laced cosmic jazz funk keys and techno hi hats coalesce exquisitely on Buffalo Gurl, whilst the breathtakingly deep Hard Rain sounds both current and classic. Low Tide is an ambient jazz interlude that clears the palate, before Another State Of Consciousness trips the light on a kaleidoscopic discoball of pure synth ecstasy. Bumpy and blunted, the break-fuelled flute ride of Aesop Thought and LA style abstract science of Workin’ Me Out shine a new light on trip hop, before the album closes with the smouldering, emotive brooder Almost Time. After a long studio hiatus, this is a sign of good things to come from Tenderlonious and the 22a camp!