Posted on November 17th, 2008 (3:28 pm) by Matt Midgley

Nick Thorburn is a busy man. Between releasing a new Islands album (Arm’s Way) and touring with Jim Guthrie as Human Highway, it’s pretty understandable that he wouldn’t have time for other projects. Lucky for his fans, it seems someone didn’t get him the memo.

This new project, simply called “Reefer” is a collaborative work between Nick and Los Angeles-based hip-hop producer Daddy Kev. The two agreed that while their musical backgrounds were quite different, they should get together someplace outside both of their normal worlds and put something together. A year or two later the duo made good on their agreement in Maui, Hawaii, and the self-titled Reefer debut was born.

It’s obvious that the locale at which the recording took place played a heavy influence throughout the mini-album’s six main songs and their punctuating intros and intermissions. The key ingredients of the music – namely Thornburn’s writing and vocals set to Kev’s dinstinct melodic beats – are rarely without tropical accompaniment; Ukelele, steel guitar and the rhythmic sound of waves washing up on the beach.

While that is obviously the point, the album is a bit sleepy, with the possible exception of ‘Crony Island’. The track boasts is the only real dose of hip-hop to be found on the album, and features Busdriver, with whom Kev had worked previously. Also notable is the reefer take on the ‘30s classic, ‘Blue Moon’. While it can hardly be said the song needed another remake, Thornburn’s trademark darker vocals make it feel worthwhile.

The album closes with two remixes; first a Dntel take on ‘Hit and Run’, followed by a version of ‘Let It Go’ by Flying Lotus. Dntel’s remix doesn’t add much spice to the original, and while not particularly out of place, is also nothing special. The Flying Lotus take on ‘Let It Go’, however, makes for a fittingly-trippy ending to an album seemingly aiming to represent a Hawaiian day with the green stuff.

While it doesn’t jump out and grab you (which is likely part of the point), Reefer’s self-titled debut is a solid offering, and doesn’t suffer as it might have from being the product of very busy people. Fans of Nick Thornburn especially, and particularly his work with Islands, will likely find this extra side of him quite appealing.

1. The Simplest Way
2. May Baleen
3. Body Heat
4. Let It Go
5. Five Hundred an Ounce
6. Crony Island (Ft. Busdriver)
7. Hit and Run
8. Blue Moon
9. Until We Meet Again
10. Hit and Run (Dntel Remix)
11. Let It Go (Flying Lotus Remix)

Reefer's Myspace

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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