Populous: Queue For Love
Morr Music

Subtle hints of hip-hop were scattered amongst the electronic escapades of Populous's Quipo debut but the style now moves to center stage on Queue For Love. You'll find no gangsta shootings or coastal feuds here though; instead the feel is warm and breezy, a hip-hop lite style that recalls an earlier innocent era associated with A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. The warmer vibe is immediately apparent when the opener “The Breakfast Drama” awakens to the sparkling dew of a spring morning. Immediately following, a gently chugging beat boosts the otherwise delicate “My Winter Vacation” and the stronger stylistic shift into hip-hop is confirmed once Dose One (cLOUDDEAD) enters with his relaxed, sing-song flow.

Apparently Italy's Andrea Mangia constructed the album using soul, jazz, and soundtrack records samples from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s but numerous guests ensure that the album extends beyond a hermetic bedroom exercise. In addition to Dose One, Matilde (of Italian band Studio Davoli) boosts the paradisiacal “Bunco” with her angelic vocals, and both lulls the listener to sleep in “Clap Like Breeze” with whispered vocals and elevates it with her sweetly entrancing vocal in its a lovely chorus. Giardini Di Miro's Jukka Reverberi adds classical guitar shadings to “Hip-Hop Cocotte,” while the looping repetitiveness of the closer “Drop City” is camouflaged by the droning weave of Plea's e-bow and Antonio Gaballo's electric guitars.

Loping beats crisply cruise through the other songs too, though Mangia wisely keeps things interesting by nudging the songs in different directions: syncopated handclaps and classical guitar give “Maqam Saba” a slight Arabic feel, mysterious animal noises rain down upon plucked guitar figures and string bowings in “The Dixie Saga,” and “Canoe Canoa” skips lightly on a cushiony cloud of Spanish-tinged acoustic guitars. The sound throughout Queue For Love is sparkling, pretty, and lush, with Populous painting a sunny landscape of hip-hop paradise, as opposed to a brutal portrait of gang war hell. Consequently, Mangia lays himself open to charges of naiveté or myopia but surely there should be room for his style too within the full hip-hop spectrum.

May 2005