Moses Sumney

(Copyright © 2018 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Aromanticism (2017), 6.5/10
Grae (2020), 6.5/10

Los Angeles-based black singer-songwriter Moses Sumney debuted with the mediocre EPs Mid-City Island (2014), with Man on the Moon, and Lamentations (2016), with Lonely World, his stereotypical falsetto hymn.

Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar, 2017), ostensibly a concept about loneliness, decorated his languid falsetto with adequate arrangements, notably Quarrel that borders on chamber Latin-jazz. The other highlights are the ethereal aquatic post-psychedelic Doomed (a rewrite of the 2016 song) and the psychotic melodrama Lonely World (a rewrite of the 2016 song with a coda bordering on Brazilian batucada).

Moses Sumney's ambitious double-disc Grae (2020) was sculpted by an impressive line-up of writers, arrangers and producers, notably the ubiquitous Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never. The lush, orchestral In Bloom (produced by Matthew Otto of Majical Cloudz) and Virile (produced by the trio of Daniel Lopatin, Andrew Chugg and Ben Baptie) are songs that blend soul music VanDyke Parks-style arrangements (and the latter also a vibrant Phil Spector-ian production). The album excels at elegant and sophisticated architectures, like the trance ballad Gagarin, a collaboration with the Swedish jazz trio of pianist Esbjorn Svensson, contrabassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Ostrom, and Colouour, a collaboration with French multi-instrumentalist Vincent "FKJ" Fenton (who plays saxophone and keyboards), with Shabaka Hutchings on second saxophone and Lopatin on additional keyboards, as well as in disorienting moves like the vocal effects in Conveyor (produced by the Lopatin-Chugg-Baptie trio). One can admire the stately oneiric nudity of the hymn-like Two Dogs , and the fragile tip-toeing madrigal with James Blake, Lucky Me, but the pounding dance beat of Neither/Nor is puzzling at best. And the word "tedious" comes natural to describe the lounge soul-jazz of Cut Me, a collaboration with British rock band Adult Jazz, Lopatin on synths, Brandon Coleman on bass, Ian Chang on drums and Jonathan Slater on horns, or the acoustic ballad Polly, a collaboration with songwriter Tom Gallo. Amplifying those deficiencies, the second disc runs out of ideas and becomes repetitive and monotonous, all the way down to two collaborations with Nigerian-British writer Taiye Selasi, And So I Come to Isolation and Before You Go, and the bloated and confused Bless Me.

(Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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