Ammoncontact: One In An Infinity Of Ways
Plug Research

Plug Researchers Fabian Ammon and Carlos Niño return with the third chapter in the Ammoncontact saga, following their full-length debut Sounds Like Everything and recent EP Brothers From Another. The sound hasn't radically changed though the mix is strangely muddier this time around, with the instruments sometimes blurring together into a dense, congealing mass. As with its previous recordings, the group's hip-hop-jazz-funk fusion oozes a warm LA vibe, and, like before, the album unfurls as a non-stop travelogue without intervals separating songs from one another. A predominantly instrumental album (aside from an occasional whoop or ecstatic shout), only the last piece, the title track, places a vocal front and center, specifically Lil Sci (Sol Uprising) on the mic. With his biting flow saved for the final song, the album ends memorably (even if his contribution reveals how much stronger the album would have been with him or an equivalent MC appearing more often).

One In An Infinity of Ways exudes a relaxed, block party vibe but, on the down side, its music often slips too easily into the background; while pleasant enough, “Good Life To Groove Merchant” and “Wu Woomp Woomp” resemble directionless, groove-based backing tracks a bit too much. As one might expect, Ammon and Niño welcome many guests: the string-laden head-nodder “Love Letters,” for instance, features some nice jazz-tinged interplay between Joshua Spiegelman's flute and sax, and Daedelus adds acoustic guitar picking and woodsy bass clarinet to the aptly titled “Dreamy,” a languid mélange of flutes, synth burbles, and snare splats. While the group relies heavily on sampling and digital assembly, there's an equally strong emphasis on 'natural' sounds like flutes, percussion, and electric piano; what most distinguishes the swaying Eastern-jazz rhythms of “Like Waves of The Sea,” for example, is Trevor Ware's upright bass. On occasion, a given track twists and turns through multiple episodes, like the three-part “Infinity of Rhythm Instrumental” which opens in a percussion circle, abruptly segues into bass-driven hip-hop, and ends with minimal, Rhodes-sprinkled beats.

When all is said and done, One In An Infinity of Ways is a credible enough album and certainly its gregarious vibe is endearing but, given the talent involved, should be better. The songs could be more compositionally developed, for one thing, which would help elevate the set above a mere groove-based level. By album's end, one deems it somewhat of a missed opportunity, given that the collective talents of Ammoncontact personnel would seem to be so eminently capable of producing something stronger.

November 2004