Instrumental hip-hop with an international palette, Gnotes' Inthrumental
celebrates the blurry line that separates electronic and organic music. Technics in the backseat, guitars in the trunk, explains Gnotes, aka Sean Dwyer, on the joyous opening track.
Inthrumental pushes even further the expanding evolution of hip-hop by weaving together a tapestry of diverse sounds into a single living, breathing album. Boom-bap breakbeats provide the foundation for Dwyer's soulful guitar slides and Afro DZ ak s live trumpet solos, while interspliced vocal samples allow Gnotes to speak his mind even without his mic.
Rather than just layering samples over his beats, Gnotes invited fellow Boston musicians to jam over the skeleton of what would eventually become Instrumental. The result is a bold exploration of the musical possibilities of international hip-hop, with its roots in Brazilian baile funk, Southern blues, British grime, West Coast G-funk, and true-school Afro-Cuban jazz.
One of the best tracks, Gift of Prophecy, is a sultry love song with a hypnotic acoustic guitar and regal trumpets in the distance. Beautiful Story features a graceful extended trumpet solo from Afro DZ ak of the Eclectic Collective, while rapper Kabir lends some la-di-da to A Cloudy Day in Cambridge. The final track, PreGnotes, features bits of Dwyer s music from before Inthrumental, working backwards from the present to his singer-songwriter days playing acoustic guitar with Ryan Read.
Not only does each individual track grow and move with musical dynamism, but the entire album itself seems to be a living creature with purpose and direction. Despite some delightful detours along the way, Inthrumental avoids losing listeners attention by constantly moving in exciting and unexpected musical directions.
is Gnotes' best album yet - combining Canyon Cody's top-notch skills at the mixing board with Sean Dwyer's clever live instrumentation and an array of influences ranging from Miles Davis' fusion experiments to RJD2's and DJ Shadow's innovative collage sampling. The Davis effect is corroborated by trumpet solos from Afro DZ ak, a member of the Eclectic Collective; making tracks like "Beautiful Story" genuinely beautiful. Other notable tracks include "A Cloudy Day in Cambridge," which features the rapper Kabir, "Gift of Prophecy," and "Guitars in the Trunk." --Michael O'Brien, The Heights