A Sufi and a Killer

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Like if J. Dilla produced George Clinton after visiting with the Dalai Lama, or if Dan the Automator recorded Cody Chesnutt after the two shared a plate of magic mushrooms, A Sufi and a Killer is a weird, ‘60s-rooted, psychedelic hip-hop trip. Sumach Ecks (aka Gonjasufi) sings quietly in his old-man croak over record crackles, McCartney-esque basslines, Farfisa organs, spacy delays, chopped guitars, Middle Eastern scales, and beats by the Gaslamp Killer, Mainframe, and Flying Lotus. It’s a perfect fit for Warp Records, and the same type of creatively deranged underground hip-hop aimed at fans of Stones Throw, Ghostly, or even the vintage-oriented Dusty Groove. Purportedly, the album took much longer to mix than it took to record, and this heavy attention to detail is evident. Of course, you have to listen closely to notice. The record is purposely skuzzy-sounding, giving it the sense of a loose projector warbling through a Fender tube amp. Along with Ecks’ unique delivery, this constant, lo-fi quality holds the album together as “Suzie Q,” “Stardustin’,” and “Change” jump from one style to the next, taking on Bad Brains punk, Tom Waits carnival creepiness, and Funkadelic cosmic slop. The mellow grooves of “Sheep” and “Dust” are highlights. On these, abstract melodies rise to the surface and stick. Elsewhere, the album shapeshifts, globetrots, and time travels so much that it's hard to keep up. Still, it's always mesmerizing. A Sufi and a Killer is nearly impossible to place or categorize, and this ageless quality is only embellished by Gonjasufi's vocal work, which at times sounds like a mystic channeling spirits from another dimension. Truly visionary.

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