Impresses by drawing revealing parallels between diverse global musical styles.
Chris Power 2009
The follow-up to his 2006 debut Endangered Species, Sun People sees New York producer and turntablist Nickodemus grabbing a mouthful of everything from the world music smorgasbord. Latin percussion, US and UK hip-hop, Guinean balladry, Cuban piano, house, Puerto Rican funk and zithers all rub together pleasantly enough along the way. There’s no Finnish black metal or Tuvan throat singing, but then even the most generous spirit of inclusiveness has its limits.
With its 4/4 beat pattern, Sun Children, featuring NYC rap duo The Real Live Show, is a summery beam of hip-house, and its optimistic mindset typifies the album’s mood. Relentless happiness, however, is tricky to sustain for the entirety. Sun Children works because of its tightly compressed energy: a horn sample weaves itself relentlessly around Malik and Stimulus's traded lines in such a way as to get even the most misanthropic listener’s head nodding. The Love Feeling on the other hand, its vocal provided by Brian J of the Pimps of Joytime, is an insipid piece of Latin house that the introduction of Yoruban-style chanting does little to salvage.
The occasional unevenness of the songwriting aside, there's pleasure to be had in some of the musical blends that Nickodemus concocts. Best of these is Dibidina, a co-production with Quantic, which blends Falu’s classical Indian vocal with samba that is itself burnished with raga-like inflections. It's an interesting, pleasingly circular combination, as is Gira Do Sol's marriage of traditional Brazilian music informed by that country’s erstwhile Congolese slave population and Afrobeat.
Less successful is 2 Sips & Magic, the first of two collaborations with the New York Gypsy Allstars, wherein their intricate playing is let down by the unimaginative breakbeat and bassline underpinning it. Their second contribution, weRISEweFALLweRISE, is much better: an intriguing collision between Eastern Europe, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and America.
At its best Sun People impresses by drawing these kinds of revealing parallels between diverse global musical styles. During its less-inspired moments it's more like world music lite, decontextualising regional forms for the sake of an easygoing, unmemorable vibe.