Carlos Niño & Friends - Extra Presence Music Album Reviews

Reworking his 2020 album Actual Presence, the Los Angeles percussionist links up with friends like Deantoni Parks and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, while Laraaji and Iasos lend new-age gravitas.

Like a West Coast Bill Laswell, Los Angeles-based producer, composer, and percussionist Carlos Niño possesses golden ears and platinum musical connections—i.e., talented folks who happen to be his friends. He’s a community-builder and conceptualist who brings an indomitable optimism to every project he helms. For nearly two decades, Niño has lent a utopianist duende to hip-hop, ambient, jazz, and new age. In the defunct Ammoncontact, he was one of the earliest artists to infuse hip-hop with new-age spirituality and cosmic-jazz atmospheres. On 2004’s One in an Infinity of Ways, he and partner Fabian Ammon Alston released a track called “Healing Vibrations.” It’s not a stretch to say that the title of his soul-jazz ensemble Build An Ark’s Peace With Every Step album could be Niño’s musical motto. Extra Presence is yet one more piece of Niño and pals’ sprawling mosaic of beatitude.

Constructed from a 2019 improv performance and then retrofitted with overdubs in his studio during the pandemic, with help from his collaborators, Extra Presence is an expanded version of Niño & Friends’ self-released 2020 album Actual Presence. Like its predecessor, it’s decidedly a headphone listen. These musicians revel in the cumulative power of minutiae coalescing into detailed tapestries. You can hear that approach on “Luis’s Special Shells Alternate Mix”: Featuring said shells and keyboardist Jamael Dean, the track is a miniaturist wonderland of ASMR-inducing percussion and synthesizer textures. The tiniest sound takes on monumental importance in this microscopic sonic environment. Niño’s predilection for gongs, chimes, bells, and other percussive tools lays a heavenly metal foundation for many of these pieces.

In a coup, Niño enlisted ambient/new-age avatars Laraaji and Iasos to add luster to his beatless excursions. The former contributes zither to “AmazonianPulse,” which begins with dripping water, twitchy scratching noises, and insectoid chittering. When Nate Mercereau’s placid guitar and Laraaji’s twinkling zither finally enter the frame, after three minutes of this disorienting collage, it’s like sunlight dappling dense flora. Iasos appears on two tracks. On “Mushroomeclipse,” Iasos contributes, as Niño puts it, “celestial sounds.” This is the music you hear in a dream in which you’re slowly sinking in a calm, clear lake.

On a more kinetic tip, “In the Moment” evokes the pastoral chamber jazz of Third Ear Band via Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s violin, Devin Daniels’ alto sax, Randy Gloss’ pandeiro slaps, and Niño’s tersely suspenseful synth. Funk rarely flows as sparely or blissfully as it does on “Actually,” which pits Deantoni Parks’ slyly funky beats and rimshots against Dean’s pointillistic piano filigrees and Mercereau’s probing bass.

“Dreamishappening” appears in two different iterations, plus a separate reprise. The instrumental’s trip-hop hauntology could soundtrack an eerie scene in a movie. The vocal version features Shabazz Palaces MC Ishmael Butler’s diamond-sharp, interstellar-traveling poetry (“See, I rode in on a moonbeam from the indigo corridors”) amid a paradise of Niño’s crystalline tintinnabulation and Dean’s seductively slurring keyboards. The result is a zenith of oneiric hip-hop, or perhaps D’Angelo’s Voodoo in zero gravity.

The album closes with the nearly 23-minute “Recurrent Reiki Dreams,” whose serene swirl of wind chimes, cirrus-wisp synth pads, and susurrating waves harks back to the calmest moments of Niño & Friends’ 2012 album Aquariusssssss. When you have Iasos in your ranks, you let him burble and drift for as long as he wants, and on “Recurrent Reiki Dreams,” the new-age icon proves that he still has the transcendentally tranquil touch. One should always harbor skepticism toward anyone claiming to make “healing” music—even someone as steeped in aural spirituality as Niño. But on Extra Presence, more often than not, he and his comrades seem to have cracked the code.

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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.
Carlos Niño & Friends - Extra Presence Music Album Reviews Carlos Niño & Friends - Extra Presence Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, August 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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