Apollo Brown must listen to a lot of good records; his ear for selecting samples is highly honed, but it’s the musicality of his arrangements that allows Thirty Eight to transcend anything you’ve heard from him previously. His music is assembled with 70’s soul sensibilities; sitting amidst blaxploitation cinema’s rugged analog crackle, Eastcoast boom-bap’s cool delivery, and modern production’s technical sheen. For anyone with even a passing interest in production the album is essential, while the tunes are so tonally rich any casual lover of decent music can find gems within it’s twenty diverse tracks. Slow, funk guitars cruise under flute loops on the intro, shifting into clean drums draped in thick organ loops on Cellophane to transition from the producer’s recent Ghostface remix project into this. Luminous female voices adorn Learn The Meaning and Shotguns In Hell, before the sweet sounds on Dirt On The Ground make for a standout track; with flips that shift terse cuts into silken loops.
The Warning‘s cool brass stalks from the shadows, while Cleo’s Apartment and Life Is A Wheel step into the light to transform well-worn samples into exciting new compositions as the former hazily floats on perfect chord progression, and the latter shivers with icy atmospherics. The sweet sounds of old soul gets an inventive modern twist on Never Disappear and All You Know; while emotive vocals and dynamic melodies make for another highlight on Heaven At Last. Lonely and Cold pulls off a recurring Wu-vocal chop with a catchy chorus loop that had me anticipating the distraught delivery of Ghost; while snares roll under elegant female chorus on A Wise Man’s Woman; Brown’s immaculate palette becoming even more tasteful as the LP progresses. The Answer‘s swooning voices finalize this ill journey through skilled production with one of the album’s most memorable hooks; demonstrating the Detroit-based producer’s skill at maintaining a constantly varied and captivating soundscape throughout. With Thirty Eight Apollo Brown’s already proficient beat game elevates another level; capturing the mellow, smoked-out coolness that lingers under his high flute samples as easily as he dips into gritty low pass filters and heavy kicks.
Grab it digitally at Mello’s bandcamp here. The physical version for the UK comes out around June 2nd.