Noho Fidel And _______ – Collaboratorium

 Noho Fidel And _______ – Collaboratorium

Noho Fidel And _______ – Collaboratorium – EP Review

Honesty is valued more than kindness.”  #AmenToThat

Lemme put good ol’ Noho Fidel at ease here, and assure the dude that’s the only way that I know how to work…that’s how this whole system/machine here runs.  However…experience has taught me that you get a whole lot more “friends” with kindness though…or at the very least, looking around at the sum total of NONE that I currently have and enjoy…it seems that I’ve been plenty honest in this lifetime.  I’m a nice guy…don’t be scared – I just don’t believe in bullshit is all…life’s too short to not simply be real AF.

This past decade at sleepingbagstudios, I’ve shed about every “friend” I ever had as a result of being honest…and I’m OK with that.  Promise ya, I sleep the exact same way, every night.  How’s that Noho?  Am I doin’ alright so far with the honesty stuff?  I also believe in transparency too.

The main issues I have with comments like these on the way in the door, would be that, for one, it implies that the majority of the scene/Noho’s experiences with it, have not been honest…to the point where now it has to be requested, specifically…and that’s super lame.  Not on Noho’s part – that’s a completely accurate assessment as far as I can tell as a dedicated independent music journalist – most people in my field are here to rub your nuts and nothing more – but that ain’t me.  The second part is much more obvious…it’s merely more confirmation that just about no one out there really has any idea of who we are or what we do, even still after a decade.  We’re the smallest fish in the sea; and so be it.

Then there’s a third issue…which is almost even WORSE.  Believe it or not, these types of quotes like the one I pulled for ya up top from the notes scattered across this dusty desk of mine, almost NEVER come from a source where “honesty” should be the main concern.  I get that it would probably seem mighty strange to start making just about anything in this world and have a whole bunch of people telling you time & time again how great you are…but what the heck are you supposed to do when that’s really the case?  This record is completely flawless perfection – so what do I do here now?  Do I make something up simply for the sake of being “honest” – or do I just embrace its natural definition and tell it like it is?  All four of my regular readers know how this goes…I call things how I hear’em; I’ve doled out more bad news to people than most critics I’ve ever met – and while that’s never a fun situation, if things are going in the right direction & as tight as they are on this album…I couldn’t care less if someone didn’t like what I had to say, because the people will like what they HEAR.  My words never really matter – but the music always does – I am only a mirror reflection of what comes through my speakers, pass or fail.

So…as much as I do genuinely hate to disappoint anyone out there, unfortunately, that’s where we are.  Very sorry Noho Fidel And ______ – I guess I have to tell you that your music is as awesome as everyone has probably been saying it is already, and merely confirm what any set of functioning ears would tell ya.  This whole set of seven songs on Collaboratorium is completely killer…and if there’s something here that would benefit from some kind of change in the sound, ideas, or the writing…I ain’t personally hearing it.  It’s always tough knowing you’re letting someone down.  I’m so sorry that your record is this good Noho.

Listen to the start of “Dead Giveaway” and tell me you’re not hearing what I’m hearing!  This is outright SPECIAL y’all…very similar to how I felt when I pushed play on Four Tet’s album Rounds, years & years ago.  That’s not to say this sound isn’t fresh now – it IS – the reality was, and still is, that Four Tet has always been ahead of its time…and now Noho Fidel And ______ can join in on blazing the trail for this type of musical fusion as we head on into the future.  For real – what about this track isn’t insanely addictive?  The keys, synths, and atmosphere is nothing short of pure sonic brilliance, and the analog sounds that show up along the way are every bit as engaging with the way they’re all threaded into the mix & layered in throughout the structure of “Dead Giveaway.”  Like I told ya from the start here – I ain’t gonna be the one to lie to ya – I’d have no problem listening to this record & only this record for the rest of the year.  Is everyone gonna feel that way?  Obviously not – there’s next to nothing that is universally agreed on these days – but if there’s something that’s gonna get close, it could very well be this opening track, if not the entire EP in total.  “Dead Giveaway” generates REAL interest immediately, displays a serious grip on how to incorporate depth & substance into the instrumental realm, and provides multiple moving moments in the melody & sound throughout its length that are downright captivating.  It’s not just a great gateway into Collaboratorium, it’s an absolute knockout track by every definition.

“Legitimate” is both a title, and an accurate description of the way I feel about Noho Fidel And ______ as I listen to this second tune.  “Legitimate!”  YES.  Yes indeed, this vibe is legit AF, and quite possibly one of my favorite cuts of the year if I’m being real with ya.  You want an example of crossover sound, and a way to add some Jazz into the veins of the mainstream?  THIS track illuminates the blueprint on how to go about doin’ it RIGHT.  That piano melody!  Good lordy – those insatiably cool bass-lines!  That crisp beat and how it’s responding along with the keys…the backing ambience & percussion in behind it all…what is not to love here?  How about that moment around the 1:33 mark?  Music practically don’t get any BETTER than this right here y’all…that’s what I’m tellin’ ya.  Fuck kindness – I’m just keepin’ it REAL.  If I had anything critical to say, I’d be the first in line to say it – there is just absolutely nothing at all that I’d remotely change here – “Legitimate” is exactly that – “Legitimate.”  As in, you legitimately NEED to have this song on your playlists this year, or you need to be re-schooled on what self-love is all about; you’re only hurting yourself if you’re not rocking with this single-worthy cut right here.  Songs without words are always going to have the odds stacked against them when it comes to even BEING singles – but it’s tracks like “Legitimate” that prove, without question, that if you’re rockin’ your vibes right & tight, it CAN be done.  You CAN create moments in time with such an enormous gravitational pull like you’ll hear in the thick of the bass-lines at the core of “Legitimate,” or through its main melody, that we can’t help but turn straight UP.  Technically, there are vocals added in throughout this second tune as well…mainly as an effect, part of the production, and as an aspect of the melody you’ll find swirling through this track…but you get what I’m saying, this is essentially an instrumental in the way it’s designed & played – “Legitimate” is nothing but style, bulletproof hooks, and a genuine achievement.

Okay – here we go Noho – how about this…”Delaz” is much more for me, than it’s gonna be for most people.  CALAMITY STRIKES THE RECORD!  Obviously it’s nothing nearly that dramatic – I’m fully confident that if you did enjoy the first two cuts from Collaboratorium, you’ll have no problem at all going the distance through this whole record and probably enjoy “Delaz” as much as I did myself.  I ain’t here to tell ya it’s the BEST song on the album – it’s not – but it’s still a really damn good one, and a song I’d readily play over 85% of what I end up listening to on a daily basis.  Written with kind of a part I & part II type of approach…I dunno…I suppose I did kind of feel like they were two completely separate ideas and not sure how much they necessarily needed each other in order to appear in the same track – but each individual part does contribute something remarkable.  Like, as “Delaz” began, I was practically stunned…and once you have a listen & kick into that moment just past the thirty-five second mark or so, you’ll know exactly why I felt that way.  Could I have used more of that?  Sure.  I don’t know if it really counts as criticism…the impulse to simply demand or want MORE of what we’re already hearing, but there you have it & there you go, that’s how I feel – that first half could have been its own song.  That ain’t really for me to judge though…and I will absolutely take what I can get when it sound as great as this does.  The switch into the second-half of “Delaz” did flow in with impressive fluidity given that it’s immensely different from the way this song begins…but as it transitions around the 1:08 mark, you end up in this very pleasant, warm, and inviting vibe…like something you’d hear straight out of Lemon Jelly.  From there, it presents a more steady melody & rhythm, cleverly chopped up & innovatively played on through to the end…there’s not a whole lot to this second-half, but the hypnotic effect of it works well.

The smooth groove of “Day Tripper” is purposely infused with all kinds of wonderful weirdness that’ll help bend time & space around ya as it plays on.  I am gonna advocate on behalf of this cut as well, yes indeed…I think it probably pushes a few people out there in terms of what they can/can’t handle a bit, maybe…honestly, that’s not easy to assess…there are extraordinarily addictive sounds in the mix here.  Idea-wise…that’s likely where it’s a bit beyond the scope of the average everyday listener, but I’d never discount the pure power of one aspect of the music with the strength to draw people in…”Day Trippper” definitely checks that box in a variety of ways.  It might be the main melody that pulls you in, it might be those bass-lines when they really kick into gear past the thirty-second mark…but one way or the other, I’d suspect that this track will find a way to work some kind of magic on ya, and get ya onboard willingly.  It’s Noho Fidel And ______ in a slightly more experimental mode than has been revealed so far on this record perhaps…but when you hear how tightly it’s played and produced, you kinda have to recognize that even inside of a looser idea, the results of what we hear are undeniably spectacular.  Listen to the way this track will shift around from the lefts to the rights…listen to the innovative sound selection itself – there’s plenty to be admired & impressed about on a track like “Day Tripper” – this is audible art in action, and it sounds ALIVE.  I’m always into a dive down the rabbit-hole, and Noho Fidel And ______ are happy to be our tour guides for the journey on “Day Tripper” – and I’m as here for it as I am any other on this EP…it’s a different cut in this set, but it’s still cohesive enough to warrant its inclusion for sure.

I am very, very close to sayin’ that I like “Honeydripp” as much as I like “Legitimate” – VERY CLOSE…like, we’re nearly splitting hairs here.  The bass-lines in the music of Noho Fidel And ______ continues to be a MAJOR asset, and in the case of this particular cut, is likely without question going to be its main draw.  That being said…when you really dig into the rest of the excellent additions made to this track, you’ll be equally impressed for sure…but I’ll admit, it takes a moment to even realize there’s anything else goin’ ON after that incredible bass comes rippin’ into the mix.  When you do get to that point, you’ll hear just how essential the guitar is to this track as well…or the horns in the opening…or the flute laid down by Melissa Sebel – there is an absolutely fantastic display of instrumentation that is movin’ and groovin’ like nobody’s business on “Honeydripp,” and as a result of their combined efforts here, you’ll find this ends up being one of the most addictive cuts in the lineup of Collaboratorium.  That bass you hear on this cut incidentally, is laid down by @anomaly22…and I don’t know WHERE this dude has been hiding all my life, I’m just grateful this artist is in it now – the instrumentation is as sensational as music can get y’all.  They definitely latch into a unique crossover vibe here that’s gonna work brilliantly for a whole lot of listeners out there…it’s like a Latin-spin on the Radiohead vibe at points, and at others, like a full-on party song that’s guaranteed to turn good times into great ones.  For a song that’s under three-minutes in length…honestly, I’m astounded by how many times I’ve played “Honeydripp” to never feel the wear & tear on it…this is a full dose of vitamin M(usic) & listening should be part of your daily health regimen.  YOU will FEEL more ALIVE just by listening to the energy and passion on display in this cut, I guarantee it.

I don’t know exactly what a “Marty Nightwagon” would be…but I know the title brings a smile to my face every time – it just sounds like the kind of song I’d be into, and proves to be exactly that whenever it comes on.  All-in-all, it’s actually one of the lower-key moments on the record, but this is definitely the kind of mesmerizing cut I really get right into.  Closer to something you’d find in the music of Prefuse 73 than the earlier comparisons made to Four Tet…the radiant color really comes into the sound of “Marty Nightwagon” – it’s an extraordinarily well-played tune when it comes right down to it.  Short…no doubt about that…but again, if the most criticism I’ve got for Noho Fidel And ______ is to give us a lil’ MORE to the length of these tunes, I figure that’s pretty damn solid ground to be standing on.  Ideas-wise & as far as the sound is concerned, this entire EP has been a huge WIN in my opinion…I’m all about imagination, art, and expressive styles of music, and what’s being created in this band will prove they can engage your mind’s eye every bit as much as your ears.  It’s thought-provoking entertainment…maybe that’s the best way to put it – ideas like “Marty Nightwagon” will make your brainwaves dance as much as your body move…a stellar hybrid in between the realms of accessible sound and artistic vibes that the masses will be able to hang with.  Though I’ll admit…and I don’t exactly know what causes this…every single time it started up, I was half convinced that I was about to hear some kind of strange digitalized version of “Hotel California” – feel free to @ me if ya like…I’m not saying there’s a justifiable reason, it just seemed to carry a similar melody, or felt like it was about to twist into some strangely innovative cover.  In any event, the differences get established quickly, and you’re well on your way into the uniquely smooth groove that fuels the core of “Marty Nightwagon,” which comes fully-loaded and equipped with all the spectacular attention to detail from the lefts to the rights you wanna hear – all at 0% financing!

Wrapping it up and bringing everything around full-circle at the end with “Lujian” – pay attention to the spoken-word threaded into this tune, and you’ll understand a lot of the reasons behind why Noho Fidel was looking for honesty & why I went into all that stuff at the very beginning of this review.  I love the seriousness and the weight that comes with the vibe, sentiment, and ambitions of this final track – it’s the real statement cut of the bunch, that essentially goes on to provide the context for what ya just heard & what you experienced.  There’s real perspective put forth in that spoken-word moment y’all – and a truly grounded grip on what leads to groundbreaking moments in making music, or creating art of any kind.  In terms of sound, ya play like no one is listening – in terms of what I do here, I tend to follow the same concept – I write like no one is reading…but of course, if you are, know that I’m truly grateful.  “Lujian” is something else when all is said & done…it’s deceitfully long at four-minutes in length, but our good friends in Noho Fidel And ______ have brought out the ol’ fake ending…there’s about a minute or so break in between the first part of this track and the extra bit that you’ll find at the end.  In what’s certainly one of the most unexpected and unpredictable moments you’ll discover on the entire record, the final moments of “Lujian” nearly sound like it’s made entirely by someone else, which is rad as hell!  Don’t get me wrong & don’t get it twisted – obviously I’ve enjoyed every single second of this experience with Collaboratorium and I’d listen to Noho Fidel And ______ all day, every day – but the sheer audible statement this project makes at the three-minute mark is pretty much mind-blowing.  It’s that moment where you realize that IF Noho Fidel And ______ wanted to have played their music & songs with a more simple, accessible, and straightforward design, that it certainly could have been done – and everyone out there, not just myself, would easily be jamming along with this band.  Personally, I’m thankful that Noho Fidel And ______ chose ART instead…perhaps that makes the music more niche at the end of the day, but those that dig what they hear will be every bit as addicted to this as I am, 100%.

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