It’s one of the more unlikely stories from U.S.beat culture: San Diego’s Sumach Ecks moves to Las Vegasto work as a yoga teacher, but not before contributing an edgy, Billie Holiday-like vocal to one track on Flying Lotus’s 2008 debut Los Angeles. Impressed with his distinctive scatting, Warp Records offer him his own deal. It’s a nice creation myth, and Ecks, who records under the suitably wigged-out moniker Gonjasufi, has thus far lived up to its billing.
Warp Records are classifying this as an EP, but MU.ZZ.LE – the follow-up (in 10 short tracks) to 2010′s A Sufi and a Killer – sounds in many ways like the bigger record. Taped somewhere out in the Mojave, this dubbed-out desert music occasionally trips into emotional ditches that are bleak enough to soundtrack an end-times movie like The Road. MU.ZZ.LE sounds like it was recorded on filthy equipment salvaged from RadioShack dumpsters, with Gonjasufi’s searing, blurted vocals dissolving immediately upon emerging from the speaker cones. Vinyl flecks dot the opener “White Picket Fence,” whose dread-fuelled electric piano chords are reminiscent of Tricky’s mid-’90s debut. “Rubberband’ is slow, sad and stately as a Procol Harum anthem, strained by DJ Shadow through a sieve of hiss; while “Blaksuit” is a chopped-and-screwed, syrupy jam over garage punk guitar chops.
You never quite know if MU.ZZ.LE‘s gloopy, ramshackle character is painstakingly crafted or the genuine record of serendipitous moments of improvised dementia; whatever, it breathes new life into the corpse of “triphop” and confirms Gonjasufi as a gloriously eccentric new broken beatmaster.