Paul White

Shaker Notes

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On Shaker Notes, released on Belgium's revered R&S label, Paul White pushes his sampler to the side and plays an assortment of objects, including "broken bass," "stolen bongo," "weird wooden xylophone," and "my nephew's wooden flute." A list of family and friends that includes sister Sarah Williams White, Wayne Francis, and Jamie Woon assist on instrumentation and add layers to White's vocals. That's right -- the producer even sings here. He doesn't exactly go for it. His lines are soft utterances that express heartbreak, tranquility, and joy, and they act like another instrument rather than as a focal point. Despite the significant deviation from his more common approach as a producer of left-field rap instrumentals, much of Shaker Notes has similar qualities. Among its higher points are the likes of "Where You Gonna Go?," "Running on a Rainy Day," and "Is It Up to Us?" -- all psychedelic, dreamlike, and leisurely, more about generating trance states than working neck muscles. The mischief that typifies much of White's previous work bubbles to the fore on "Honey Cats," a reverb-drenched dollop of sleaze that shuffles and slinks like it was recorded in the Pink Room of Fire Walk with Me. The rattling, slightly skronky "Fighting to Dance" and slightly horrific "Numbers of Change" are welcome shakeups, filled with frantic energy. Not everything sticks. Some of the lazing tracks verge on rudderless meandering, but as a whole, Shaker Notes is a fascinating detour.

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