Little Dragon’s command of styles is staggering, from dubstep and dancehall to Prince-ly R&B and early ’80s hi-NRG disco. And that’s only on the sweet seduction song “Precious.” Their light arrangements are also finessed with a kind of feng shui: Where others erect walls of sound, Nagano’s pals paint delicate watercolors without seeming precious. Combing the complex chords and subtle tonalities of jazz with electronica’s infinite possibilities, they play in their sonic sandbox as if they were carefree children, not musos swinging on serious chops.
No wonder why the Roots’ drummer/producer (?uestlove) and Outkast are fans of the Gothenburg group’s dark, dubby soul — a sound that’s earned its various singers and players spots on albums by Raphael Saadiq, Gorillaz and TV on the Radio’s David Sitek. Discreetly freaky soul doesn’t get much more futuristic than the avant-garde angles of Ritual Union.