Alias

Muted

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After a stunning debut, rapper/producer Alias followed up with the all-instrumental EP Eyes Closed. Now his voice barely shows up on the sophomore full-length, Muted. Generally relaxed and fey, Muted is a limited listen, there's no doubt about that, and there's barely a connection to the hip-hop world past being on the Anticon label. But what's most interesting about Alias' new attitude is that he's taken his Maine small-town roots and mixed them with his adult Bay Area surroundings. Take the way muted car horns and trumpets mix on "Caged In, Wasting Away." It's the background music a city provides mixed with small-town dreams and a wistful tinge of homesickness. The album's most direct moment is "Unseen Sights," a melancholy and exhausted antiwar number with Markus Acher from the Notwist on vocals. It's a great match. Anticon collective member Pedestrian shows up on the most kinetic number, "The Physical Voice," a welcome reprieve with slight stutter and boom. Songs are well built, never showy, and things never get precious. This is a rainy window, foggy day of an album that's humble and approachable. Boom Bip at his most melodic and Boards of Canada minus the cheeky humor could be comparisons, but Alias has his own voice, even if he's not rapping.

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