Ammoncontact: With Voices
Ninja Tune

In quiet, even surreptitious manner, Ammoncontact has amassed a distinguished body of work in a remarkably short time. Since Sounds Like Everything debuted in 2003, Carlos Niño and Fabian Ammon have issued the EP Brothers From Another and full-lengths One In An Infinity of Ways, New Birth, and now With Voices (somehow fitting in projects with Dwight Trible and Build An Ark too). Its latest finds the group's spicy mix of hip-hop, jazz, soul, and Latin growing richer still, with an ever-expanding crew of contributors making Ammoncontact seem more a conceptual work-in-progress than a singularly defined persona. Though vocalists give With Voices its obvious conceptual hook, the sweetly percolating backings by Niño and Ammon are even tastier: check out the sing-song swing that struts beneath Lil Sci in “With Voices” and the hypnotic lurch that strolls through “Drum Riders” (plus Cut Chemist's scratching and Brother J's rhymes).

Hip-hop is the album's common thread—Sach and Lil' Sci perform verbal gymnastics during the funky hip-bop of “Into 777” and hip-hop rumble of “Like This” respectively, while Abstract Rude lays jazzier flow over “Worth It”—but other styles emerge too. “Beautiful Flowers,” featuring vocal bits by Dwight Trible, Prince Po, and Yusef Lateef, and “A Zillion Tambourines,” with its spoken-word turn by Kamau Daaood, highlight Ammoncontact's affection for the ‘60s experimental-jazz tradition. In addition, Mia Doi Todd's creamy vocal brings out the group's ballad side in “Earth's Children,” and Daedelus muses dreamily in the brief “Sleep Stasis”; a goodly share of smooth space-funk surfaces too (“Life Force Contact,” “Elevation,” “One For Ayler”). With Voices i s not only assured and—surprisingly, given the guest list—cohesive but is also the most complete Ammoncontact recording to date. One can enjoy it as a collection of heartfelt and joyous music or, more boldly, appreciate it as a manifesto for their communal vision of musical positivity.

October 2006