Diego Bernal

For Corners

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Not too proud to pay tribute to his most evident inspiration, Diego Bernal opens his absorbing beat suite For Corners with "Diego's Donut (RIP Dilla)," a track that is modestly regal and mournful at once, anchored by an uncomplicated but effective break and draped in stately horns, accented with several subtle touches and tricks that poke through with each play. Instead of a Jadakiss cackle or siren to signal the next track, there's sampled dialogue, stitched together and heavily reverbed: "What you got down there, Diego?" "Dust…" Only Bernal could know how many particles were inhaled while pulling up the material repurposed throughout this set. While the San Antonio, Texas-based producer, a civil rights attorney, has the wistfulness-tinged warmth down, the lesson Dilla impressed upon him the most could be the drive to dig as deep, far, and wide as possible while reshaping it all in a way that reflects his own life. The format here -- sample-based instrumental hip-hop vignettes -- is not new, but it has never been given this Southwest touch, certainly not by a producer who can whip up an astonishing, Latin-flavored synthesis of disparate elements. Startling synth drones, hurtling dustbowl-psych guitars, jubilant flutes, and rhythms for the hammock and dancefloor only scratch the surface. All of it is streaked across a shrewdly paced sequence of tracks, 40 minutes of soul-soaked beats that feel like 20.

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