Anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for lo-fi instrumental albums. At the same time, I love working with music, especially throughout the process of my new book, but as a hardcore listener, I find it’s distracting to refrain from analyzing the bars as I hear them. So instrumental albums are my ace. A recent LP I was wearing out was Max I Million’s Uncut Gems that I received in a care package from the good homies at Coalmine Records.
But the last few weeks have been harder on my brain than usual, and London-based producer, Big O, has a new LP (The Mind’s Mirror) that has been such a refreshing, creative soundtrack to my movements.
The project at 20 joints, chopped and sizzled to perfection with a healthy variety of vibes and admirably one-point sequencing.
It’s interesting how it starts as a premium lo-fi Spotify playlist, with the opener “Unfulfilled Desires” and the follow-up “Imagined Scenario,” which are hot but sport a noticeably familiar sonic aesthetic that had me feeling quite comfortable. BUT, when that Dilla-esque soul flip at the end of the latter track came on, I knew this was special. Things speed up and slow down at will, floating you above a sonic tapestry woven with tons of really creative little clips.
A good example is a skit on “Don’t Heckle Me,” with a gentleman cussing out a heckler, which leads the transition into the soulful second half.
There are some highlights for me; I played a lot of “Visionary Fantasy” featuring Melvin Toussaint & Onisor Rodila, with the delicious vibed-out guitar, oh man. The saxophone on “Everlasting Time” with CanCori was also something I ran back a few times. Then there was “WatchuJuannaDo” featuring Abel Boquera, which sounds like a neo-soul love child of MF DOOM’s “Gas Drawls” and R.Kelly’s “Step In The Name Of Love,” to me anyway [I’m intense].
It’s one of those projects that I’d be happy to learn is connected to other projects; after a few listens, I could almost hear rappers on these beats, especially with this many flavors. I could see someone in Griselda’s vein, like Boldy James, eating on “Mind Glitch,” for example.
Instrumental albums aren’t an easy feat; without the songs themselves, the producer is left to sequence by vibes, which is a delicate balance. Too much in one direction or the other can make a project bland, or ho-hum and forgettable in a dose too small.
Big O manages to walk the line, with enough going on to keep you engaged all the way through. It has an almost sunny, West Coast disposition about it. Crate diggers and lo-fi junkies will find a lot to love here.