Following a series of one-off tracks, collaborations, and 2012's promising Rejoice EP, Los Angeles-based beatmaker Napolian's debut full-length, Incursio, came as a bright collection of inspired, meticulously constructed instrumental hip-hop. Early press releases for the album joking alluded to the album following in the footsteps of DJ Shadow's groundbreaking Endtroducing... LP, and though that half-serious comparison is lofty at best, there is a striking similarity between the albums, less musically and more in their shared restless spirit and openness to previously unimagined ideas. Where Shadow stitched together his masterpiece from samples of impossibly obscure records, Napolian, born Ian Evans, chooses to build his tracks from his own playing, dropping in only the occasional spare vocal sample, as with the nostalgic R&B cutup of "I'm Yours" or the submerged shouts that punctuate the hard drums of Dilla-esque banger "Reminisce." While the aforementioned similarities to some of the masters are definitely at play throughout Incursio, Evans' sometimes brooding but often playful approach to the sounds is all his own. The elastic '80s funk of "W [Dub]" and heavy soundtrack atmospherics of the far darker "DARPA" represent the different polarities of the wide spectrum at play over the course of the album. Between the cinematic menace of the Dro Carey-assisted "THERM.G" and the dusty downtempo drum loops of "L O B B Y," the beats that make up Incursio wander into places of nostalgia, anger, loneliness, and naive hopefulness, sometimes within the same composition. The overall organization of the songs keeps the album from ever feeling sloppy or inconsistent, offering instead an incredibly insular and at times transportive listening experience that draws in clean lines but never sterile affectation.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas