The Highend Sound

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Los Angeles-based producer/remixer Rudy Mangual occasionally favors his Latin heritage in the crisp Afro-Cuban beats that underpin most of his debut set, but despite his nickname and the title of his album, The HighEnd Sound is mostly all about the bass. An avowed fan of Lee "Scratch" Perry and other dub mixers, Mangual sets full-bodied dub-style basslines into almost all of these downtempo chill-out grooves, offsetting the bottom end with smart arrangement touches like glissando washes of electric piano and echoing Chet Baker-like muted trumpet lines (the gorgeous album highlight "After Traffic") or a cross-cultural blend of sitar, sarangi, and vintage synths over a maddeningly catchy dropped-beat rhythm loop ("Shisha"). With the exception of the hip-hop interlude "Everybody Loves" -- which isn't bad in and of itself, but which doesn't particularly fit the reflective mood of the rest of the purely instrumental album -- The HighEnd Sound is a smooth, glossy, but never slickly mechanical example of the producer's art.

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