Instrumental Mixtape (Self-released)
What a mind-blower. Hunt up Lil B the Based God's "Motivation" and nod your head to the dramatic beat with the ethereal synths and eerie vocal samples that cut B's visceral spitting. Now Google "clams casino instrumental mixtape," download the file, and listen to the instrumental of "Motivation" in the context of an album-length swath of like-minded cuts from the New Jersey twentysomething dude behind such distinctive beats for Lil B, Soulja Boy, and more. Not only does "Motivation" stand on its own as a sweeping slice of ghostly funk, it settles effortlessly into the flow of a release with the uncanny impact and enigmatic appeal of Burial's debut dubstep game-changer.
Up front, it's worth acknowledging that this stuff is so florid in spots, so precociously gauzy, that it sometimes approaches massage-therapy soundtrack; stripped of Lil B's rhymes, the twisting, incomprehensible male vocal sample and the trip-hoppish plod of "Realist Alive" even brings to mind Enigma's BDSM-lite classic "Sadeness." And yes, there's some cognitive dissonance between listening to the simple chordal beauty and shimmering synth layer-cake of a particular track and knowing it's titled "Real Shit From a Real Nigga." But taken as a whole, on its own terms, Instrumental Mixtape outdistances its functional title. The tracks cover a lot of ground, feel-wise, from the nearly beatless "The World Needs Change," with its buried male vocal sample and trinkle-tinkle synths, to cuts such as "Brainwash by London" and "She's Hot," which are easier to picture as standard hip-hop beats tucked under a game MC. Then there are cuts like "Illest Alive," which chops up what sounds like a Björk sample and a piping synth riff to create something that doesn't sound like much else out there right now. But really, it's the way the various tracks work together in creating a mood of hazy longing that lingers more than any one individual cut, though it wouldn't be too surprising to hear "All I Need"'s vulnerable "oooh"-ed chorus, subtle sonar pings, and summer-lawn hisses bumping out of an open car window over the new few months. Well, no more surprising than this whole thing.