Dusted Jazz Vol. 3
Trip-hop was essentially the “lofi” of the ‘90s. Critics rightly heralded the most innovative artists for finding the parallel sonic threads between genres like rap, soul, dub, and rock and weaving them together. But for every groundbreaking album from artists like DJ Shadow, Portishead, and Tricky, there were scores of mediocre imitators whose work didn’t make the cut for Mo’ Wax and Ninja Tune. Music journalist Laurent Fintoni describes the music made at the tail end of the ‘90s as “limp, often stoner-friendly, coffee table hip-hop beats.” (Sound familiar?) Jenova 7’s Dusted Jazz Vol. 3 is excellent contemporary trip-hop with occasional lo-fi (not “lofi”) leanings. It’s downtempo and chill, not “chill study music.” There are too many sounds from too many genres, too many departures for anyone to get lulled to sleep. The shuffling beat on “The Chiaroscuro Killer” eventually gives way to bluesy psych-rock. “Coffee Stains” is breakbeat meets Blaxploitation funk/soul. The dusty thump of “Starship Neverland,” with its laser-like blips and warbles, has the sloppy swing of the best lo-fi beats programmed on electronic samplers. Skip the “lofi” playlists and create one with tracks from Dusted Jazz Vol. 3 and those from trip-hop contemporaries like Moderator and Brock Berrigan.