Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Album Review: André 3000 - New Blue Sun

André 3000
New Blue Sun
** out of *****

The famous Atlanta based MC and hip hop legend André '3000' Benjamin has always been a bit of a free spirit/wildcard, but few could have foresaw that his first solo release, after a 17 year hiatus, would be an ambient, flute based work titled New Blue Sun.

The lyrical dynamo has traded in words for pastorale soundscapes and moods throughout this long running, atmospheric record. The song titles are silly, yet the music feels more focused, and not just tossed off on a whim. However, it should also be noted that the sounds are also not very exciting, drifting into background sounds, as they were probably intended.
Opener "I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a 'Rap' Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time" sets the tone and let's fans know what they are in for over the next 80 minutes. The light flute, the sweeping chimes and the vibrating essence play like New Age inspired efforts that used to be found on Windham Hill Records

The players who join him on this journey are: Carlos Niño – bells, chimes, cymbals, drums, gong, plants, percussion, Nate Mercereau – guitar, guitar synth, live sampling, Surya Botofasina – keyboards, synthesizer, Deantoni Parks – drums, Diego Gaeta – keyboards, synthesizer, piano, Matthewdavid – mycelial electronics, V.C.R – violin, effects, Jesse Peterson – bass, sintir, pedals, Mia Doi Todd – vocals. Mr. Benjamin himself plays a wind controller, pedals, contrabass flute, whatever "panther toning" is and standard flute. 

The deep drums anchor "That Night in Hawaii When I Turned into a Panther and Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn't Control ... Sh¥t Was Wild" giving the tune a resonating feeling that it's title talks about while "Ninety Three 'Til Infinity and Beyoncé" is a shorter fluttering effort that swirls amicably. Niño's bells and chimes highlight the yin/yang titled ""Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Your Lord & Savior J.C. / Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy" which also gives into digital samples, bleeps, mysterious vocals, and repetitive flute runs building to a shimmering finale; the most interesting sonic adventure on the album. 

"Ants to You, Gods to Who?" slowly swells, yearning to reach a higher cosmic plane while closer "Dreams Once Buried Beneath the Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout into Undying Gardens" wraps up the album with more of the same, stretching out slowly over the tracks seventeen minute run time with twinkling sounds, fluttering vibes, and passages of soothing, if at times dull sounds, building to a slight crescendo before dripping back out into the ether.

Safe to say if there was any other artists name on the album cover, the sounds contained within might be heard by only a handful of people who pay attention to ambient music and are deeply embedded in the genre. That is not to say the music isn't without merit, but it is certainly genre specific in it's ambient ways, and while it may make for soothing background sounds in a spa or on a restful Sunday, few fans of André 3000 will likely add New Blue Sun to their heavy rotation.
Support the artist, buy the album and peep some video below:

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