Jazz-Hop

REVIEW: Kai Basanta - earth

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Will Shenton

As we noted in his recent video premiere, Kai Basanta has a penchant for blurring the line between digital and organic. Every facet of his new EP, earth, seems determined to draw both elements into the liminal space that divides them, blending jazz instrumentals with synths, samples, and drum-machine beats. The result is an artful take on jazz-hop that feels more intentional and dynamic than the bounds of the genre usually dictate.

From the summery grooves of "sunlight" to the off-kilter mashup of a Kendrick Lamar interview and an Olivier Messiaen quartet that is "love," earth isn't afraid to show off Basanta's impressive range. The album feels like an ascent into unrestrained creativity, as we move from more recognizable tropes into the simmering soundscape of "shadows," its beats resolving slowly out of an ominous ether before closing the EP.

At first glance, earth feels familiar, and perhaps that's the point. It's only by delving deeper into its textures and homages that we can see Basanta's sound evolve right before our eyes.

REVIEW: milo - sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face

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Phillipe Roberts

Lowercase rapper milo’s latest record, sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face, was conceived as “the document of a weekend in early autumn,” but released on New Year's Day with a record-breaking cold snap breathing down its neck. It’s unfair to be hearing this album for the first time bundled under multiple sweaters; the free-flowing, crisp yet loose production and milo’s breezy flows are a tantalizing portrait of those carefree, double-digit temperature days. Coming off of a project as dynamic and confident as who told you to think??!!?!?!?!, milo manages to condense his wide-ranging vision to pocket-sized proportions. A late Christmas gift for the snowed-in faithful, sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face is the sound of milo extending his hot streak. At 24 minutes, hardly half the runtime of his last, it might be the most accessible introduction to his singular universe.

But there are no grandiose James Baldwin speeches to start the proceedings this time around, no cosmic synthesizer swirls vaporizing into oblivion. Here, milo keeps the introductions short and less-than-sweet, digging into album opener “a terror way beyond falling” with a mournful piano sample that slams into being with a jarring lack of subtlety, mangled beyond repair and clipping with a menacing crackle that fills your headphones to the brim. milo comes at the mic primed for escape. “I’m out of here on the starship nigga / Spaceship, motherfucker,” he growls, airing out his contempt while saving space to drop the two-faced wisdom of a minor chorus: “And I know property is theft / But it’s still some things I’m wanting / So I might take ‘em.” No other tracks match it for muted fury, and it’s brave new territory well-conquered for the rapper, weaving a thing of beauty out of naked ugliness.

From here, the mood rapidly cools off and milo slips into more lighthearted territory, but keeps the experimental vibes high. Coming to the sly jazz-hop grooves of “ryu drums (fat tummy riff suite),” he contorts bars with staggering deftness, keeping you rewinding to fully parse verses like “Delicate circuit somnambulates this wide blade in v spot / And had the makings of an oath in the peach garden.” Most would throw themselves into those lines with athletic energy, but if it’s there for milo, his casual, smirking delivery never lets it show.  The end of “bought my kid a high chair” shows off milo’s voice as instrument as he plays around with the phrase “anxiously yearning,” chopping it up in whispers after cracking himself up.

milo leaves ample room for scallops hotel—his producer alter-ego—to shine, particularly in the middle of the record. The beat on “temple in the green,” with aquatic piano sandwiched between a softly exploding snare and a perfectly dusty bass drum compels him to comment, “This beat is nice, the mic sounds nice,” and he chuckles before vocally mangling the bass melody as the song dissolves around him. For the first time, milo sounds content to revel in his own goofy pretentiousness, less thumbing his nose from a high horse than riding his own wave with confidence. sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face isn’t particularly concerned with pushing the envelope, but its victory-lap sense of ease, and the conviction with which milo strides into each beat, is infectious.