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Free the Robots - Kaduwa Music Album Reviews

Free the Robots - Kaduwa Music Album Reviews
The underrated Los Angeles-based producer returns to his Filipino roots on his latest album, a psychedelic collection of blunted tracks and club compositions.

Free The Robots (né Chris Alfaro) has been a familiar presence in the Los Angeles beat scene, but he’s never been given the same flowers as Nosaj Thing, Shlohmo, or at least a half a dozen artists who put out records with the word “Brainfeeder” printed on the back. For the uninitiated, beat music is a grassroots movement started in the late 2000s by a loose collective of musicians who typically congregated around the Low End Theory club night at The Airliner in Lincoln Heights, dedicated to testing the boundaries of hip-hop production by transplanting in genres like IDM, jazz, and ambient. Low End wound up almost four years ago now, but Alfaro’s eclectic proclivities have only intensified. New album Kaduwa is a product of a trip to the Philippines, the country of his roots, which unexpectedly turned into a year-long stay when Covid-19 hit. While immersing himself in his ancestral influences on Siargao Island, Alfaro used just the bare-bones equipment he had with him.

It’s a compelling origin story, the kind labels love to seize on to help promote a record. But unlike Free The Robot’s previous album, DATU—which mixed samples sourced from Filipino albums with organic percussion instruments and chirping nature noises—the local influences are identifiable only intermittently. There are some indigenous-sounding drum patterns complimenting the programmed beats; “Aswang” takes its title from creatures of Filipino folklore, but leans heavily on a sample from obscure prog rock band Experience. There is the compelling trip-hop of “Far Away,” which features Cambodian-American singer Chhom Nimol of the band Dengue Fever. For the most part, Alfaro’s compositions are blunted, funky, and psychedelic. There are tracks for club nights, tunes for early morning comedowns, and songs that are suitable for both.

The album stirs to life with “Machine Language,” and immediately there’s a lot going on: a probing bassline, Pharaoh Sanders sample, spliced audio clips from an 1980s Commodore 64 tutorial video. With its loungey keyboard playing and shuffling beat, “Outta Sight” is deep house music for the cocktail club, while “Fangoria” is more head-splitting electronica. If Free The Robots was streamlined by a lack of access to equipment, he has wrangled everything he could out of the hardware he had available.

Kaduwa was also partially recorded in Barcelona and L.A., and Alfaro’s home remains a muse. “Welcome to Los Angeles” features an audio clip from what sounds like an old tourist video, the carefree keyboard play mirroring this pre-packed idyllic image of the city in an ironic, almost derisory, way. Meanwhile, three songs feature singer Salami Rose Joe Louis (real name Lindsay Olsen), who hails from the Bay Area and is now signed to Brainfeeder. Salami adds her soft, magical vocal style to Alfaro’s compositions that slink pleasantly along with unhurried grace—see the European pop flavored “Flowers.” Once more adding new ripples to his sound, Free The Robots continues to explore new frontiers, keeping the torch burning for the L.A. beat freaks.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Free the Robots - Kaduwa Music Album Reviews Free the Robots - Kaduwa Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 Rating: 5

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