Future Brown (CD)

The electronic all-star team of Fatima Al Qadiri, Jamie Imanian-Friedman, and Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu, release their eponymous debut album Future Brown. As the title would suggest the album is hard to define, if not impossible. Having bonded over New York’s music, art and fashion scene this crew expertly blends all of the genres and styles one would expect to come from that pedigree. Future Brown’s music blends dancehall beats with a mid-Eastern flare. It forces Miami bass and dance cuts to commit to the structure of a hardcore grime track. All while maintaining the depth and the intricacies you would expect from world class electronic producers. But while the music does stand on its own, the crop of outstanding rappers and featured vocalists this team has put together is downright savage. Timberlee on “No Apology,” Shawnna on “Talkin Bandz” or Riko Dan on “Speng” are some shining highlights. Get this release and look forward to what this new team might put together in the future. It is stunning.

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Ibeyi (CD)

Twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz draw upon their Afro-Cuban heritage for their bewitching electro-soul debut. The sisters’ close harmonies and unison chants spill out hauntingly on “Oya,” an invocation to a Santeria spirit built on a digitally scuffed tribal beat. The sisters are the daughters of Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Diaz, who died when the girls were pre-teens, and his spirit (as well as that of their deceased older sister) hangs overhead, but however ceremonial Ibeyi can feel at times, it’s rarely funereal—“my ghosts are not gone,” they sing, but “Ghosts” pulsates with lively chants. Only on standout “River” does it feel mournful, the sisters’ minor-key, gospel-influenced harmonies creating gothic atmosphere alongside a creeping piano and knocking beat. Ibeyi feels strange, its spare beats, eerily clipped sounds and occasional corroded hip-hop beat jibing uneasily with the sisters’ ritualistic vocals, but that underlying feeling of pain also serves to make the album’s spare landscapes feel oddly soothing in a cathartic sort of way. Perhaps it’s the Diaz’s directness—on “Behind the Curtain,” they sing, “dear audience, sweet spectator, we’re together for good,” and you can’t help but feel the connection. It’s an impressive and endlessly intriguing debut from the 20-year-old Diaz sisters.

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Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt. 2 EP [Import] (CD)

Just four months after breaking years of silence and releasing the excellent Syro, Richard D. James is back with another brilliant piece of music. Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 EP is based around the kind of computer-controlled “live” instruments you can play with on GarageBand. That gives the EP some pulse, on the clanging percussion, cut-up hip hop beats and vague sense of dread on that permeates through “diskhat ALL prepared1mixed 13.” “diskhat 1” is even gnarlier, with a heavier beat and percussive elements that echo just out of time. Wild piano lines slither quickly up and down the trunk of “DISKPREPT4,” while “disk prep calrec2 barn dance [slo]” calls to mind gamelan music, as does much of the EP. A few tracks sound like more like unused drum beats and loops left over from Syro, but they also work as part of James’ seeming goal to break down tracks and announce them unceremoniously, removing expectations and letting pieces stand on their own. And however short, like the 38-second, alien funk of “diskhat2,” most of them leave their mark. By the end of the album, we’ve looped back into more clanging funk, and it’s clear James has left us with plenty to chew on over the course of the extended EP’s 27 minutes. If we’re lucky, James will just keep cranking these out as he sees fit, given the extraordinary quality of both Syro and this EP.

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