Review: Jack Foley
JUST six months after releasing their One In An Infinity
of Ways LP, the prolific Ammoncontact return with a mini-album,
titled New Birth.
The minimalistic Los Angelinos pride themselves on being able
to deliver atmospheric, predominantly instrumental and predominantly
hip-hop based music that exists on a higher plane to most commercial
As such, New Birth continues the trend, combining some
funky, groove-based beats and blips with a dash of cosmic Black
Power politics, a love of jazz and enough bass to 'flatten planets'.
The ensuing 34 minutes of 'instrumental hip-hop' is an effortessly
laidback affair that's perfect just for chilling out to.
Omniverses 1 and 2, for instance, provide a
great example of Carlos Nino's hybrid production style, fusing
drum machine programming, sampling, live instrumentation and voices
to create a deeply atmospheric but nicely laidback vibe that eases
you into the album.
Part one is quickly followed by Naeem (named after Fabian
Ammon's new son), a clear-eyed afro-funk shuffler that lays down
some groovy rhythms and an urgent bassline that's designed to
get your feet tapping along with it (while nodding along in appreciation).
The funky vibe is continued into Futuro, a classic cut-em-up,
sample-chop construction from the duo that actually doesn't work
as effectively as its predecessors.
But the shuffle-laden drums of A Satellite's Return,
with its cinematic backdrop, quickly bring the LP back on track,
featuring some urgent beats and plenty of sample-chopping. It
kind of provokes comparisons with some of Mr Scruff's work, while
creating a soundscape that is distinctly LA-based.
The rest of the tracks fail to live up to the high standards
of those I've picked out, but still deliver enough style to be
worthy of a place in the record collections of genuine Ninja Tune
My People, for instance, fuses hip-hop in its purest
form (courtesy of some heavyweight political vocals from Lil Sci,
of Scienz of Life) with a marimba-driven beat, while another of
Nino's side projects, the big band Build An Ark, ensure that the
final track, Temple Jam, ends the mini-album on a moody
New Birth can't quite match the overall quality that
was evident on One In An Infinity of Ways (perhaps because
it arrived too soon), but it's still a notable effort from one
of the most interesting acts on LA's alternative scene.
The atmospheric mix of styles is certain to appeal to fans of
hip-hop and jazz who fancy hearing them mixed up to create something
different from the norm.