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Olesi: Fragments Of An Earth
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Georgia Anne Muldrow is one of Stones Throw Records newest signings, the only female vocalist signed to the label. Inspired by solid '70s soul, free jazz and a bottom-heavy hip-hop thump, Georgia paints a unique musical canvas that has the underground stopping to gaze and take it all in. It's just one 22-year old woman behind such a breadth of sonic expression she does her own vocals, background vocals AND the beats. This brand new LP, Fragments of an Earth, is her official full-length debut.
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Muldrow writes, produces, records, and performs everything on this EP. She released it independently prior to getting signed to Stones Throw. This re-release is meant to promote her full-length album out later this year.
You know those tunes you can sing along with the first time you hear them? There aren't any of those on this record. Muldrow doesn't so much progress through notes, as pick and choose which ones she's going to hit when. Add to that the slightly off-kilter rhythms that predominate on Worthnothings and you have a challenging first listen.
"Larva" gives you an early clue that this is going to be something different. One of Worthnothings' most straightforward production efforts plays the back as Muldrow explores the vocal path-less-taken at every opportunity. The result is beautiful and invigorating and just slightly uncomfortable the first time through. Run the song back and it's really interesting. Hear it a third time and it's amazing.
Move further into the record and "Lo Mein" reaches the heights of incongruity. At no point in the song does the melody serve as anything more than a suggestion informing Muldrow's lyrical choices. She swings all around the simple backing track, never resting near the obvious notes for more than a measure. Oddly enough, the result is riveting. It's lightning in a bottle. It's the spirit of improvisation captured perfectly in one song.
This is a record for musicians, radio jocks, and industry vets. It's a record for ears jaded from hearing the same thing year after year. The same drums, the same chords, the same vocals. For those ears, Muldrow is an unexpected treat. For less tired ears, it might be too much the first time through. But give it another few runs so you don't miss what's going to have your favorite artist raving about Worthnothings.
If you took some of the more soulful/funk-driven instrumental Madlib/Jay Dee tracks, and stuck a vocalist that has a freeform almost floating and dreamlike singing style that shifts in tone and moods constantly, and sings about self-improvement, Political Statements, Social commentary on the state of America's people, Mortality, and even the Water in New Orleans. And this is delivered with an album that flatly refuses to pigeon-hole itself by taking an idea and beating it to death. Instead she takes the wild experimentation of jazz pioneers, the sensual mood of Soul finest, and the immediate head-bopping beats of Hip-Hop, and the technical proficiency of funk and modern creative Jazz. Which, thanks to her ability to express her art, without sacrificing content, to appear more accessible...one of this albums strongest points.
It's a sound that is frequently dizzying and spacey, yet focused and alluring enough to catch the attention to the listener. Georgia frequently spins metaphors and soothing lyrical phrases that like unlike anything currently out there. Is it Hip-Hop?, is it psychedelic Soul?, is it creative Urban music?.....in fact it all these things and at the same time, still something originally unique to her. Words bounce around experimental Hip-Hop beats, songs are layered over earthy R&B tones, and Georgia herself sings like a free spirit, over which shuffling funk, lo-fi experimental Hip-Hop, low-slung Soul....are all draped over Georgia's gorgeous multi-tracked vocals. The Albums as a whole is impressively diverse, and because Georgia is one of those rare breed, a singer and beat maker....she isn't limited to singing over someone else's instrumentals. And this gives her free reign to construct a slightly wonky album (in the best way possible), that veers all over the place, yet displays a raft of ideas and directions that stretches and expands upon the limits of the various genres that her music touches upon, mixing poems and free-form thinking, along with catchy pop hooks, which she wails and coos with sufficient verve. Channelling anger/ Sorrow / Angst / Reflection & Searching via a vaguely connected manner. I have to admit that I love this album...as it heralds an incredibly interesting talent, admittedly probably one that will unfortunately be relegated to the sidelines, as other far less interesting acts, gain acceptance. As Georgia's music is a little bit too-leftfield, and little too all over the map & far too unhinged to make a sizeable impact. She's more likely to be one of those wonderful artists you stumble across (even by accident), and wonder how something so original sounding is frequently passed over by the buying public, for what is one of 2006's best kept secrets.