On his full-length debut, Los Angeles' Nosaj Thing throws elements of experimental electronic music into a wok, adds some spicy effects and catchy hooks, and comes out with a strand of instrumental hip hop that's instantly engaging and consistently invigorating. His aesthetic is similar to fellow L.A.-cohorts like Flying Lotus, Baths and Take, but it's distinct enough to stand on its own.
I love the standout track "Coat of Arms" because of its cerebral qualities and haunting strangeness. Underneath a hip-shaking breakbeat, a reverb-drenched vocal sample and synth line ducks in and out of the mix every time the kick drum hits, while a crunchy bass line slithers its way between the beat. It's a trippy effect that gives me chills each time I hear it. Then, in "IOIO," a complex rhythm dances with gorgeous minor key motifs that stay in your head for days. Closer "Lords" seals the melodic deal with a number of spliced female choral samples paired against a burbling bass line, danceable beat and shimmering synth sounds. It's an entrancing and stunning track that, taken as a whole, proves this young beatsmith is at the top of his game.
Nosaj Thing plays the Top Hat Saturday, Feb. 5, at 10 PM with E-Team. $12/$10 advance at Ear Candy Music and seafarerentertainment.com.