There is something inherently perfect about the right soundtrack for your movements at the right time. In a wave of commercial Hip Hop — with the genre being at its absolute height regarding actual quantifiable popularity — it may be hard to explain to someone why instrumental LPs are so vital for your soul. But in the word of King Push: “if you know you know.”
I continuously thirst for new instrumental soundtracks, and French producer/poet/creative Han Sino is someone that I’ve covered in the past — in particular his project titled Glucose. He creates this refreshing blend of funk grooves, jazz, ambient hip-hop, and atmospheric melodies that seriously make for a trippy experience, dependant on how you consume his ambitious projects.
His latest output, Exquisite Gardenz, is one which Han himself considers to be his opus. Much like his previous release — during my first few listens, I noticed that the core bass lines created that signature continuous flow that moved the 12-song soundscape along. The best way to describe this project is that if a crate digger were to randomly come across this during a record shop excursion, and take it home and drop the needle anywhere, they’d be excited as hell to fire up the MPC and start chopping. It’s gorgeous.
Beginning with the atmospheric intro track “Exquisite,” we’re introduced to an Asian influence that creeps in throughout the project. The second track “Red Fishes” gave me chills off the top, as the bassline was reminiscent of the iconic bass strums from Eric B. & Rakim’s “Don’t Sweat The Technique.” Rather than commit to a hip-hop-centric platter, though, it expands into this difficult to describe Sunday afternoon, soulful, 70’s vibe — accentuated with these ambient wind chimes that make for a crazy audio trip.
Later on in the tracklist, I found myself drawn to the mysterious vibe of “Deep Lagoonz,” with an almost video game vibe, set-off with this super cool flute, and some frantic strings that add this odd amount of tension to track. The strings in the album closer “Gardenz” also had me intrigued; groovy, jazzy, and insanely engrossing.
As Han himself says in the album’s liner notes, “I hope you will [take] this Opus as a proposition to see life differently, and bite it to the fullest … drunk of the liquor of paradise.” This should be the goal of any great instrumental affair — a soundtrack to the movie that is your life; whether you’re getting lost in a world of writing or banging it which you’re trekking through the metropolis after dark. Exquisite Gardenz is a beautiful body of work. If you’re into nu jazz, rare groove, or a fan of instrumental hip-hop, you’ll want to give it a spin.