A Sufi & A Killer
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A Sufi And A Killer
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In these recent heady days, hype spreads like digital swine-flu and new artists are subjected to the sea change of an entire career before ever developing their sound. So to exist outside of the spotlight and develop a sound at once ready for the masses online, yet rooted in the fierce individualism of artists past may seem somewhat of a quaint notion until you hear Gonjasufi.
At the moment, he stands just outside the spotlight cast on his friends and collaborators Flying Lotus and The Gaslamp Killer, but the sonic brotherhood that exists is implicit rather than as similarities in sound. Drawing from unearthed strains of global psychedelia and merging it with a rejuvenated sense of hip-hop clarity currently distinct to the West Coast, Gonjasufi is more than just a songwriter, MC or performer.
His debut album "A Sufi And A Killer" recalls moments in love as well as trading sinister threats with enemies, sometimes within the same song. Trading in both the murk of lo-fidelity vintage samples and the concentrated crispness of current West Coast production, "A Sufi And A Killer" is both a roadmap to the riches of the distant past and a signpost to the future.
The best description of Gonjasufi's voice may have come from Flying Lotus, who gave the new Warp artist a high-profile appearance on Los Angeles deep cut ''Testament''. FlyLo called it ''timeless, incredible filth,'' which reads more laudatory than descriptive, but there's something about that voice that escapes simple specifics. On ''Testament'', Gonajsufi lost himself in the track's wispy, ghostlike soul, but on earlier self-pressed records like Dead Midget on Stilts (Crutches) and Flamingo Gimpp (released under the name Sumach), his voice had a gruff, restless quality. His singing can sound raw, maybe a bit off, but his ability to pull off a frail falsetto and ragged rasp in equal measures gives him a serious depth of range.
In pairing with L.A. producer Gaslamp Killer, Gonjasufi has found a powerful outlet for his otherworldly strain of singing. Together they've created A Sufi and a Killer, one of the most fascinating slabs of hallucinogenic head-nod music to arise from Southern California's post-hip-hop vanguard. Unlike the digital bleeps and squelches of SoCal contemporaries FlyLo and Nosaj Thing, however, Gaslamp Killer and Gonjasufi draw from their hip-hop background to create an LP that could as easily fit on the Stones Throw roster as well as it does IDM-centric Warp. The beats knock, but for every moment of b-boy-friendly atmosphere, there's another moment-- or a simultaneous one-- that makes like 21st century acid rock.
Gonjasufi's vocals are both haunting and haunted, coolly assertive yet frequently fixated on mortal matters, and they bleed vividly through Gaslamp's corroded analog wall of zero-fi psychedelic noise. The results are stark: Brooding, bad-trip laments (''Kobwebz''), a doo-wop number punctuated by spacey twang (''Duet''), a warping of the blues (''Ageing''). Even the more straightforward stuff has a grimy quality to it, particularly the heavy soul of ''Change'', the bar-jazz tension of ''Advice'', and the woozy ''Kowboys & Indians'' with its Eastern vocals looped against a rust-covered revision of club rap beats circa 2003. A couple of previously issued tracks helmed by other L.A. producers sneak into Gaslamp Killer's showcase as well: Warp 2010 comp selection ''Ancestors'' maintains the psychedelic mood with a sitar-driven Flying Lotus boom-clap, while both sides of last year's Mainframe-produced ''Holidays''/''Candylane'' single contribute mini-Casio chirpiness and roller-rink funk. Even with the additional producers and the stylistic elasticity, it all coheres nicely.
And if the production on A Sufi and a Killer proves anything, it's that Gonjasufi can stitch himself into the beat whether it's a heavy banger or a quiet ballad. ''Sheep'' is the most notable example of the latter, as well as a testament to both the singer and the producer's ability to salvage a potentially corny concept: The lyrics are a vague and contradictory metaphor about wanting to be a sheep instead of a lion, but Gonjasufi sells it expertly with a fragile, subtly harmonic multi-tracked voice. And in the more impassioned moments-- ''She Gone'', ''DedNd'', ''Stardustin''-- his off-kilter wail pushes an already surreal junkshop-rock aesthetic into a kinship with Safe as Milk-era Captain Beefheart. There are plenty of times where the mix renders the exact words elusive and indistinct, and a track or two where you might wish they'd stay that way, but the meaning comes clear enough. And what the words don't hold, that incredible, filthy timbre does. --Pitchfork, Best New Music
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Production on the disc was pretty intensive you can tell. Many tracks have that old scratchy record sound, which adds to the texture I think. Gonjasufi is a yogi/rapper from San Diego and he had a bit of help from some great DJs (like Flying Lotus and Gaslamp Killer) for this album.
Definitely a nice addition to the scene and it is an interesting listen that is all over the place - in a good way - think Beck or Gnarls Barkley. You'll love it!
Most recent customer reviews
Hip Hop in the wilderness. A gritty rock concert in a church.
This album takes me to a distant place.Read more