1000 Names 1000 NamesIlluminated Man
BLACK ACRE8.1Melancholy – an echoing mood that leaves us suspended in a limbo of sadness and pleasure. We like to feel it in the stomach, although it rots our guts at the same time. If one thing is clear, it is that this sweet gloom has become a winning investment for the new shamans of instrumental hip hop. I wouldn’t exactly know how to say why, but the truth is that the latest futuristic beats adapt to rainy atmospheres like sheer black tights do to Ke$ha’s thighs (she’s not just hot, no, she’s more than hot). A significant variety of producers are joining this current of pouty-beat, guys who understand instrumental hip hop as a tool for generating emotional storms inside listeners, and not just making then bounce their heads up and down.
The duo 1000 Names has known how to find this path with an amazing ease, as if they had done it without an effort, calling on talent and inspiration. “Illuminated Man” is built on lazy, cat-like, napping cuts. It plays with details, polyrhythms, and atmospheres to reach their goal, and they are not at all afraid of milking Dilla, from whom they get abundant quantities of milk – “Long Early Morning” is the clearest example. The most outstanding thing is that Casio Blaster and 99 Mistakes –the aliases of our heroes– are not from Croydon. They aren’t from Glasgow. They don’t live in Los Angeles. This sculpted sound comes from Sofía, Bulgaria, the city where the great footballer Hristo Stoichkov , F.C. Barcelona’s great forward and an idol in his country (always controversial—he was once sent off for stepping on a referee), played in his youth.
Football anecdotes aside, it is clear that there isn’t a single corner of the known world where the viscous tentacles of the nouvelle vague of beat hasn’t arrived. And don’t be afraid: here there isn’t a single spark that sounds amateur or smells of falsification. The Bulgarians have a personal stamp that soaks up the space melancholy and truncated hip hop that Dilla popularised, but it stands out from the rest thanks to the percussion. “Telephony 2000”, for example, is an acid beating that will leave you drooling. “Pocket Calculators” has the rhythmic nerve of afro beat and bossa nova, but, of course, taken to an abandoned space station. The same could be said of the highly intricate “Ill(U)minated Man” and “Secondary Fauna”, surely the most Detroit piece, with a complex, challenging rhythmic scheme. But even when they do without their explorations into the tam-tam, they achieve highly-emotive moments of Martian funk, like “Ephermeral & Slippery”, “Private Hero” –a sort of wonky house on the verge of a coma that borders on perfection– and “Logaritmic Spirals”, an epic development par excellence in which J.Dilla and Vangelis seem to be driving the same flying saucer together.
Casio Blaster and Mistakes 99 have quietly, underhandedly added a new peak to 2010, which will be remembered as the year of the cosmic beatmakers. “Illuminated Man” confirms three things: that the sound of the new hip hop continues to expand to unsuspected places, that the Black Acre label –which we knew of thanks to Blue Daisy– continues to be in good shape, and that Bulgarians also count electric sheep. I’m lovin’ it.