These racks are balls of energized contemplation, Holley crooning grievances and observations above surrealist grooves so irrepressible and heavy that the words strike with the force of gospel. Holley strolls into “I Cried Space Dust” as if he’s wandered into the On the Corner sessions and offered unsolicited insights on true transcendence. “I’m Not Tripping” is an anthem of self-worth and self-enjoyment for a society mired in self-doubt, the words breaking like light beams through clouds of atomized drums and synths. And Holley begins the title track as a character mindlessly staring into a cell phone, captivated by his own image like Narcissus at water’s edge. Holley ponders the egotism of projection over dizzying keyboards and guitars so jagged they conjure fractured glass. By song’s end, he’s mocking this infrastructure of pandering for likes, jeering us all above a savage bassline that dares you to differ.
Holley and White may seem like unlikely collaborators, divided as they are by decades and disciplines. Holley, 70, first earned attention as a sculptor far removed from the fiefdom of fine art, using society’s detritus to create curious bricolages that ferried deep narratives of ancestral pride, enduring pain, and eternal hope. His music privately stowed on stacks of cassettes before he released his staggering 2012 debut, Just Before Music, at the age of 62 aired those ideas over extemporaneous pieces for prismatic keyboards. But on Big Inner and Fresh Blood, White, now 38, came into acclaim as one of his generation’s most meticulous songwriters and arrangers. Stretching his assuredly soulful voice like a smile across little symphonies of strings, horns, choirs, and percussive cavalcades, White commanded sounds where Holley seemed to glide inside them.
1. This Here Jungle Of Moderness/Composition 14
2. Broken Mirror (A Selfie Reflection) / Composition 9
3. I Cried Space Dust / Composition 12
4. I’m Not Tripping / Composition 8
5. Get Up! Come Walk With Me / Composition 7
Dixon explains. “I think about the messaging, and how this can be a way for another Black person, someone who looks like me, to listen to this and process the past. Everything I've learned about communication for this album culminates with this bigger question about time. Is time linear when you’re still healing and processing? Westerners look at time travel as something to conquer or control—it's a colonizer mindset. That’s ignoring how time travel can be done through stories and non-verbal communication, and doesn't acknowledge how close indigenous people are to the land and the connections groups have because they’ve existed somewhere for so long. Storytelling is time travel, it's taking the listener to that place. Quick time travel. Magic.” Never relying solely on beats, Dixon taps into a hybrid of jazz and rap, pulling in an array of piercing strings, soulful horns, percussion, and angelic vocalists throughout the album—plus features by Micah James, Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon, Pink Siifu, and more. Jazz instrumentals add a level of uncertainty, with the sounds and shifts evoking a lot of emotion and vulnerability.
It’s an energy he describes as “Pre-Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly,” the era when rap adopted more live instrumentation. The best way to sum up this album is: I was sad, I was mad, and now I’m alive,” Dixon explains. “These things I talk about on the record have had harmful and brilliant effects on my timeline, and have forced me to be cognizant of the fact that living is complex. Rap has allowed me the language to communicate, and be someone who can communicate with people from all over. Knowing how far I’ve come, I think people will find trust in the message I’m sending.”
1 Chain Sooo Heavy
2 Never Will Know
3 Bless The Child
4 Make A Poet Black
5 Protective Styles
7 Brown Shoulders
9 Grown Man Voice
10 Mama’s Home
11 Twist My Hair
The result is a masterpiece of analogue psychedelia, the organic and digital elements of the originals intertwined in the expanse of dub space, rerendered with toasty tape fuzz or reborn as 31st century gospel. Essential listening for fans of William Onyeabor, Peaking Lights and Hailu Mergia.
A2. How We Be
A3. Ya Sudan
B2. The Searching
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173 NEW ITEMS
Various ArtistsMusic Is The Healing Force Of The Universe - Höga Nord Rekords Singles Collection Vol.4
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