Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kindness, Otherness

Again, late 80’s essence, massive bass lines, an essence of an era that celebrates the birth of a modern hip hop style. And from the very first song, World Restart, you can hear that ’’Fresh Prince from Bel-Air’’ kind of monotonous, non-sense, funky brass line, fighting with beats, which, somehow, slowly melts into the second tune on the album and the first single, This Is About Us, which is actually pretty much about Soul II Soul kind of groove. 

And why do we love so much that period, and why are we going back to that groove? Because that Soul II Soul, Maxi Priest, Joyce Sims, Janet era is the end of the music as we know it and the beginning of a Timbaland era that made hip hop sound crunchy and sexist and non-relevant. This is not just a throwback, socially, this a correction period, where we go back in order to make a statement and say ’give us back those happy times when we weren't ashamed of club culture’’, times where you didn't have to listen to Nickelodeon and Disney stars at clubs, times when you could say fuck but still make proper love.

Otherness is like a precious stone, lyrically taken to another level. It’s not about clubbing anymore, it’s much more intimate, melancholic, even when it’s  followed by heavy beat like in Who Do You Love, a collaboration with the amazing Robyn. It’s a blur, it’s like trying to remember a love and trying to find these feelings through a cloud of haze, just using your senses.

Don’t let the noise confuse you, that’s just the thing that you’re used to
You never knew any different, there’s something else if you listen

From the very beginning of Geneva you think – Imogen Heap, but then it slowly turns into a piano ballad that combines elements of acoustic and electronically modified choir sounds. And once again, it’s about that blur, that haze.

With You, a collaboration with Kelela, is a very sensual, stripped, saxophone and bass driven slow-tempo, that may be the most experimental track on the album. Have you ever found a perfect and forgotten vinyl from the late 70’s and made love to it? Me, neither, But, let’s try it.

The only track on the album I don’t quite get is the Mike Oldfield-y acoustic guitar driven For The Young. It is a good break from everything else and an interesting step backwards, but still it may come across a bit as cooking TV show tune in the background that bothers nobody. On the other hand, it’s a beautiful reverie type of songs, so I don’t know, I’m torn there.

The thing I have been waiting for is the last track, Why Don’t You Love Me, a collaboration with Dev Hynes and Tawiah. And it’s just personal. Everything else is already said.

Otherness still is a big step forward from his debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind, which was more funky and in a way reminded me more of Dev Hynes’ kind of vibe. Otherness is pure Kindness album. And anyhow the two of them are two pieces of a puzzle that I’m more that happy to be witnessing assembling before my very ears.  

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