Romare - Meditations on Afrocentrism
This is an absolutely stunning release, and a real pleasure to listen to. The entire thing is expertly crafted, each sound a delicious morsel to be consumed by your ears. 'Freedom' features tense, wheezy strings, a woodblock and the introduction of afrocentric vocal samples, a theme that runs throughout and often relies on spoken word more than disco divas. The last OPN album did the same thing impressively - extracting melodies from non-singing phonetic utterances. Spoken word instantly gives the EP a more IDM vibe, straying from juke's functionalism, which is integral to 'Meditations'. I would not be hard pressed to say that this is juke's most convincing and successful step into the IDM sphere. Sure, I prefer Machinedrum's take, but even that retains juke's need to satisfy the dancefloor. 'Meditations' is, sonically speaking, an absolute delight. It is rich, evocative and textural, almost demanding to be heard through headphones. 'The Blues' is a standout, presenting a positively African vibe - a catchy flute line, throbbing bangs and shuffled tribal percussion. Sweeling synths are introduced, coupled with a wailing siren, and the song beautifully and elegantly drifts towards its climax - a relapse into the over-saturated groove of its first minute. 'Down the Line' is a darker affair than its predecessors. The acoustic guitar instantly brings Mount Kimbie's wonderful 'Crooks and Lovers' to mind, but what stands at the forefront of this song are the vocal samples, Romare has an incredibly refined ear for them in the context of each piece. The echoed "it takes a numbrer" gentley floats through the aural ether, while a surgically manicured childish vocal line comprises a wonderful melody and the shakey wobble caps it all off in effortless style. 'I Wanna Go' is perhaps the most jukey excursion on this release, it is heavily polyrhythmic and maintains a similar attitude towards vocal samples as the footwork masters. Romare brings, by way of a crackling synth, peaking drums and a chopped vocal loop, the song into a beautifully dense yet subtle flight. 'Meditations' is a great addition to the post-footwork (yup i said it) canon.