MNDSGN, Yawn Zen

Nate Patrin

By Nate Patrin

on 08.26.14 in Reviews

Ringgo Ancheta is all about balance. As Mndsgn, he’s been putting out enigmatic beat tapes for years, smothering loping breaks under a humid atmosphere that accommodate both rust and greenery alike. No wonder he gravitated from the Jersey/Philly area to the welcoming arms of Los Angeles’s beat scene — that influence is all over the warbling space-jazz riffs, backward-played loverman soul and springy drum breaks of his earlier self-released works (like 2012′s lush freebie download Exts). With the Stones Throw affiliation adding an additional push to his work — now he’s labelmates with cassette-beat abstractionist Jonwayne instead of just a collaborator — the stylistic connection is even clearer. But recent works, like his summer 2014 mixtape Surface Outtakes, have revealed nuances that are unique to Mndsgn — particularly the way he lets sleek and rough sounds bump up against each other.

Enough beatific substance to wrap your mind around, even in its minimalism

Yawn Zen is an album that rides on shaky, crackly mid-fidelity sound; seesaw-momentum melody; and occasional moments of deliberately flat, almost dazed-sounding vocals molded into something distinctly meditative. This is a beat record where kaleidoscopic keyboards pump deep pulses even when they hover drumless in the air, where moments that sound like cluttered chaos in (like the Jean-Jacques Perrey-style synth burbles in “Frugality”) resolve into calm order. The gently creeping, skyward-staring highlight “Exchanging” is scarcely more than a looped guitar, warmly shivering chimes, and Mndsgn’s own voice multitracked into astral-travel harmony. Even in its minimalism, there’s enough beatific substance to wrap your mind around — and plenty of room for Mndsgn’s busy yet contemplative headspace to overlap with yours.