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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Owusu & Hannibal
Living With Owusu and Hannibal

Rating: 8/10 ?

September 18, 2006
Who else is sick of reading reviews in which every other sentence is either a wild comparison or swear-on-my-life hyperbole? More often than not, when sitting down to listen to an album being hailed as the second coming invariably leads to a disappointment that sounds nothing! like what those comparisons and hyperbole made it out to be.

Owusu & Hannibal isn't a robotic crossbreed of Smokey Robinson and Jamie Lidell, nor are they the GREATEST ELECTRONIC NEO SOUL ACT EVER! Told straight, the Danish duo is a promising instrumental/production team that gets a comfortable launch on their debut, Living With Owusu and Hannibal, lifting off with a fresh brand of silky electro-soul sound.

Certain pop, soul, and electronic artists do come to mind when listening to Owusu & Hannibal, but those names seem appropriate only because they likewise have emotionally charged sets of pipes, and often tell emotional songtales. Simply put, the Ubiquity duo has some cultured, hawt groovies with this new album and so what if they aren't the next best thing to Marvin Gaye. Who is, really?

Owusu & Hannibal are more interesting in fostering their own sound and image. While Justin Timberlake is "bringing sexy back" (whatever the fuck that means), the Copenhagen duo are comfortable kicking it with a low profile. The pair's lack of glitz in part owes to their residence with Ubiquity rather than a pop label, but it is also because they are dialed into substance rather than bubblegummy and sweet filler bound for music video background jams.

Living With… is a slightly uneven record. The first nine tracks is a new, intriguing genre in its collective self: electronic neo-soul. In the mixture is a balance of subtle but technologically developed production, top-shelf slick hip-hop and dance beats, and Lidell-style of race-ambiguous crooning. Personal favorites can be found in the J Dilla inspired strutting beatplay and Timberlake-precise vocal harmonics of "Blue Jay," slow sleeking four-on-the-floor rhythm and popping electric bass in "LeFox," and later, "Lonnie's Secret," which is a dropped-tempo but handclapper of a dance tune, again with amazing vocals and bass programming.

It's not that the second half of the album isn't good, but it is just different enough to throw the entire mood a little bit. Following the album's best tune ("Lonnie's Secret") is a switch over to the softy "What It's About" that evokes the drum programming and reverby, vamped singing from '80s group Bananarama. Even though there are some great cuts to be found on the last half of this disc (like the signature Prince in "Upstairs, Downstairs"), there are down moments too, like "Elephants," "Caroline, No," and "Watch/Watch (Girls)" that are not as appealing nor as upbeat as the rest. Sometimes it's important to offset the more glowing parts of an album like that, but in this case it disrupts the flow somewhat. Fortunately nothing disrupts the overall impression that Owusu & Hannibal set - this hits a high note that even JT has a hard time reaching.

That's it. No promises of Owusu & Hannibal impregnating you with their downright sexy sounds. Nor any claims that they are the result of a lab experiment involving Matthew Herbert, a drum machine, and a glass of Chardonnay. No, none of that. Only real stuff here, folks. Real good stuff.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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