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Posted on October 20th, 2013 (9:20 am) by Matt Gunderson

While the percussion is relatively basic, Callifornia-based saQi's new album, Quest's End, subtly pulls from a variety of musical movements so seamlessly it's difficult to identify transitions. Whether it be a trumpet in the background or a dash of progressive trance or even funk, the tracks all seem to flow along in the same whimsical soup, and you scarcely notice an exchange in ideas. Frankly, this doesn't feel as avante-garde as it really is.

"No Hay Banda" starts with a contemplative guitar that's relatively simple enough, no frills, after which a house clap sets in followed by breakbeats and a subterranean house beat that is almost scarcely noticeable. Then comes a trumpet, playing some skidding jazz notes, which provides the whole arrangement with a sort of recognizable, easy going idiom. Midway in, we find the house beat metamorphoses into something slightly subtly and subversively progressive.

Some of this at first listen sounds relatively basic, but is in actual fact a little more complicated than it appears. This perception may arise from the fact that the snare almost invariably falls on a half note, while the base drum rarely ever leers from a quarter or half note, a fairly straightforward drumming technique that is the most conventional aspect of the LP. It's clear from this that saQi, who is a classically trained composer and trumpet player, is more obsessed with notes than he is a drum; a drum, in a sense, is a white canvas or baseline over which new levels of emotion and musical language are placed. Still, we can regard this as innovative music because the notes over the drum create an unlikely tapestry.

Maybe the most interesting track on the record is the first, "Quest's End," an organic hip-hop track that translates into breakbeat with almost a New Age affectation. The song bears the closest resonance with the cover art for the album and its anime-esque samurai staring at a monolith rising out of curls in the mist. We wonder if this might be the wave of the future, this sort of hip-hop, if some listeners of that variety begin looking for a more meditative experience through the medium of their genre as opposed to one that's a bit more jaunty and street-like. This track signals the experience of nature and urban hip-hop simultaneously.

Track List:
1. Quest's End
2. No Hay Banda
3. Your Last Breath
4. Saturn feat. The Human Experience
5. Explode Into the Clouds feat. Christopher Worth
6. Jarro feat. The Polish Amabassador
7. Wildlight-Live inside a Dream (saQi Remix)
8. When you hear me Prayin' feat. KMLN & Santino Rice
9. Cherubim
10. Spirit's Cradle feat. Leah Song & Worth
11. Lulacruza-Simple Reflejo (saQi Remix)

Saqi, Quest's End, reviews, new album, organic hip-hop
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

70 / 100
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