Jahbitat: Tonadas

Imagine Prefuse 73 as a slightly mellower and purely instrumental project and you'll have a good idea of what Jahbitat's six-track EP Tonadas sounds like. Jahbitat's work, like Scott Herren's, is distinguished by a rich orchestral palette, a quality convincingly showcased in the opener “Durazno,” a blissed-out and breezy amalgam of voices, gentle pianos, plucked guitar chimes, and laid-back hip-hop beats. A mournful vocal interlude darkens the vibe slightly on the laconic “Demonsgoallout” while “Unbeatpa'mibrethren” takes a heavier and more expansive turn with its exotic percussive rolls and chattering electric guitar runs. One weakness is that, while the tracks sound great, not all of them evolve as much as they might, “Osoconfuco” a perfect case in point; it's a sonically lush hip-hop track that loops repeatedly without developing much, a problem that would be rectified by an MC's presence. The song's static feel is brought into sharper relief when followed by “Maia” which eventually grows in volume and density as fuzzy patterns and strings are added to its funky, whirring beats. Tonadas is a pleasing listen, then, but one that would be strengthened by a greater vocal dimension.

October 2004