Material Girl: Tangram (No Agreements, 2020)

January 18, 2021 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Material Girl: Tangram

Part of the online collective No Agreements, Material Girl patches together genres and moods on this inventive, masterful debut album. Every unexpected segue, beat flip, and effect takes the narrative in another direction, and it all feels mysterious but inviting. “Flood” is the woozy centerpiece, slowly fading in strings and horns before a druggy sample (“I’m so fucked up”) precedes a bit lifted from an SWV slow jam. Then it switches to an absolutely haunting beat built around Linda Perhacs’ “Chimacum Rain”, laced with Dilla sirens, and the lyrics are delivered from the edge of panic. Just an overall chilling moment, and one that cements this album as something powerful and touching. “Funeral Parade of Roses” plays more with sounds and textures, from the abrasive sax squeals to the glitchy beat vibrations, before a brief, off-the-cuff verse reflects on life and death. Then looped sighs melt into ’90s ambient guitars and then the beat blasts back with a smooth sax solo and some half-dissolved words repeating in the back of your head. While there’s some recurring elements, most of the tracks flow through different sounds without returning to them, but nothing sounds random or out of place. It’s all very deliberate and meaningful, and it’s uplifting and resonant even if it sounds gloomy and lost. Seriously beautiful work.

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