Monday, June 30, 2008

The Figuers album reviewed on



read the text here:

Mixing Latin and hip-hop rhythms with plenty of warm keyboards, fuzzy guitars, and bleeping electronic percussion, Michigan-based the Figuers play a version of left-field rap that's more at home in a late-night lounge than behind an MC's verses. That's not to say the trio's self-titled full-length debut, out on the group's own Fingerprint Records, has that kind of artificiality, that super-smooth breeziness, that's often associated with after-hours music, because it absolutely doesn't. There's a real sense of deliberation and reflection here, both in the careful yet fun arrangements and the actual instrumental lines themselves, so even the most lighthearted of the songs ("Sexy Collarbone," "Play That Beat") never seem fluffy or insignificant. In fact, it's only when the pieces began to feel a little too thoughtful, too serious, that the album begins to lose a bit of the significance it had and slips into the realm of the monotonous. "Instrumental #4," for example, focuses too much on the beat — which is not particularly interesting, one of the few times this is true — and less on melody, trying perhaps to provoke thought but instead losing itself in its own lack of dynamic shift, in its own plodding. Fortunately, the rest of The Figuers doesn't follow suit. Musicians and occasional vocalists Losaka and Hippo, along with DJ IrwinPlus, are able to produce melodic, intricate songs that repeat without being repetitive, that are steady without being boring, that are pleasant and comfortable but not shallow. This is certainly due in part to the fact that they play most of the samples on the album's 14 tracks, so they have the ability to amend and improvise at will, changing up a Rhodes line subtly as it moves throughout the piece; adding words in Spanish and English, extra percussion, and scratches when needed; and showing off the diversity of their influence base. "Explosion (Get Live)" sounds like something Aesop Rock might rhyme over, "Polarcita" blends California soul with warm Ratatat-esque instrumentals, "Running Closer" begins with a soul sample, "Sexy Collarbones" tries to rip off Prince, and "Jala Pelo" breaks into a slow dubstep, all tied together, however, by the Figuers' greater vision of creating a cross-cultural amalgamation of the music they love, a vision that ends up being quite successful.

-Marisa Brown,

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