Night and Day

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Oriol Singhji's debut album starts out on a pleasant but not very inspiring note, with the all-too-aptly titled "Joy FM." With its warm, polite, utterly unobjectionable and wholly derivative Parliament-Funkadelic vibe, it suggests an entire program of hipster Muzak to come. But very quickly, he complicates things: "Spiral" brings in an equally pleasant and danceable but much more complex groove, with chopped-up vocals to add a sort of ambiguous spiciness to the mix. "Memories" threatens to drag the proceedings back in the direction of banality, but is counteracted by "The Process," which throws in some gentle but real dissonance; meanwhile, the beat anchored by those good-time handclaps is a notably slippery one. The problem is, that back-and-forth pattern never really lets up; "Flux" and "Coconut Coast" both lapse into a saccharine pleasantness that feels suspiciously like laziness, but then "Night and Day" artfully juxtaposes a smooth, uncomplicated surface with a roiling substratum of muscular breakbeats. "Fantasy for N" offers a cut-rate quiet storm vibe, but "LW" takes the old-school groove of "Joy FM" and pumps it up nicely, creating something that looks forward and backward simultaneously while also drawing everyone within earshot inexorably toward the dancefloor. There's no reason why dance music shouldn't be easy on the ear, but Singhji seems still to be figuring out where sonic honey ends and artificial sweetener begins. When he gets it right, the results are very encouraging.

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