Supreme Cuts

Divine Ecstasy

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While the other laptop producers in their hometown were pummeling dancefloors with the kinetic sounds of ghetto-tech and footwork, Chicago's Supreme Cuts are like a sublime rebellion demanding the return of all things serene. The aptly titled Divine Ecstasy finds members Mike Perry and Austin Keultjes offering the same mix of smooth, soulful, and crafted that colored their not aptly titled 2012 release, Whispers in the Dark, but here, vocals are welcomed, and suddenly the duo has become a Massive Attack or Zero 7 for the cloud rap age with an album full of standard-bearing songs. Late-album highlight "Faded" may be slang for stoned and yet vocalist Py floats on a light drum'n'bass track that's immaculately constructed, while the Shy Girls feature "Cocktails" is like the dream, not nightmare, combination of Robin Thicke and the Weeknd, or maybe Justin Timberlake and Toro y Moi. "Envision" is a micro-house revival with Channy from Poli├ža adding an indie, not wailing, diva to the picture, while "Isis" is the sleek kind of synth ballad that always accompanies love scenes in Michael Mann films, but with frequent Supreme Cuts collaborator Haleek Maul offering a soul-searching rap that's identifiably post-Mos Def, post-Kool Keith, and post-Childish Gambino. The familiar and the future combine frequently as "It's Like That" with Yen Tech is one part Aaliyah and one part otherworldly, while the brilliant, challenging, and rewarding cuts with Mahaut Mondino ("Gone" and "Brown Flowers") could also be good guesses about where the late soul singer Terry Callier was headed. Miniature interludes tie it all together for that classic album flow, and with no filler or fumbles, Divine Ecstasy is a well-dressed and worthy addition to tasteful lofts, high-end headphones, and excellent album collections.

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