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Album review: Teebs' 'Collections 01'

January 2, 2012 |  1:41 pm


L.A.-based visual artist and musician Mtendere Mandowa, who creates under the moniker Teebs, works with paint and frequencies that are pleasing to the eyes and ears. As a painter, he fashions precisely imagined bouquets of color, disciplined abstractions that convey a love of beauty without a trace of sentimentality, and the same could be said about his abstract hip-hop beats.

Teebs is a member of the Brainfeeder Records roster, whose proprietor Flying Lotus has become an expert collector of electronic music with an improvisatory — but razor sharp — spirit. "Collections 01," Teebs' new instrumental snapshot, is the first in a series of what he calls "mini collections of ideas" that he plans to release intermittently through his life "as if they were paintings in a drawn-out series."

Consisting of 10 instrumental experiments that stretch over 30 minutes, the miniatures on "Collections 01" move from the soft harp-plucked beauty on "Verbena Tea," which sounds like Joanna Newsom recut and fed through a beatbox, to "Cook, Clean, Pay the Rent (New House Version)," on which he ups the tempo to create a kinda sorta house track but with the gentleness of a Martin Denny song. The highlight, "Jahara," offers subtle heartbeat rhythms and deep, rumbling beats that never punch at but rather ease into the eardrums, while plucked electronic tones pepper the beats with pretty melody. Teebs may not be as acclaimed as Flying Lotus or labelmate Thundercat, but he's making music just as inspired.

"Collections 01"
Three and a half stars (out of four)


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-- Randall Roberts