Diego Bernal

Besides...

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Not the assortment of castoffs the title might indicate, Besides... is both wider scoped and slightly tighter than For Corners. Instrumental hip-hop producer Diego Bernal fills his work here with more details and moods, and he manages to do it without sacrificing the immediacy of his debut. It’s a quality sustained for the bulk of the set’s 30-minute duration, and it’s sequences of tracks, rather than tracks in isolation, that provide a greater indicator of Bernal's knack for crafting evocative sounds; each track is essential to the whole. A particularly varied yet easy-transitioning stretch comes during the back half. The slow-knocking “Clear Lifts” could be a flashback to a strip-club scene, its elongated organ notes and heavily echoed snares sounding sleazy and melancholy at once. It’s trailed by a squonking, slightly off-center vignette -- a potential theme for a burly cartoon character with a wobbly gait -- that acts as a bridge to “El Corrido de Chico B,” a rollicking track containing a muffled, prowling disco-funk bassline, psychedelically layered hand percussion, and brief showcases for flute and organ. Despite the sonic variety of those three, the shifts are fluid. Bernal is constantly shuffling the deck, continually teasing out components, pulling them back, and re-deploying them with the skill of a true craftsman -- one who can't help but acknowledge his inspirations (including Pete Rock, Diamond D, DJ Shadow, and J Dilla) while putting a singular spin on the form.

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