Frank Sinatra would really enjoy the production THERAVADA brings to his new project XENOPHON. You may have an abstract notion of Frank: the womanizer, the alcoholic or the bastion of lounge cool. None of that matters in this conversation. Frank sang alongside some of the greatest composers and players in Jazz. He famously disconnected from modern pop music at some point post-Beatles but I can hear him somewhere listening to XENOPHON and really enjoying how the notes resonate and leave space. Listen to the slow horn that centers the drums on Terminal Window or the same combination at a lovely mid-tempo on Post Game Interview. The light lovely Jazz piano keys behind him on Duality as he says “I know people that look clean and live diiirrrtttyyy…” The Bossa Nova bounce on Prasinada feels pretty close to Antônio Carlos Jobim and Frank’s collaborative album from 1967. The drums are crisp and popping but the additives enrich to a level where this album can see Buhloone Mindstate from where it stands.
The point: at it’s spine what makes XENOPHON stand out is a particular flavor mixture. The resonant handsome jazz influenced hip hop sonics THERAVADA brings(9 out of 20 songs not counting the intro) mixed with his lyrical content which isn’t simple to pin down. It’s meditative but not all the way spiritual. Not a lane just a guy talking to you, on Wasted Rize he says “Why they dead the $7 fun pass? I fear my friend start don’t fade into obscurity. Every time my mother calls me worries me, sickening from the memories of all the details I had to be told through a phone, all the traps that we make for ourselves. It’s the bed that we lay in.” Some songs are three minutes some are much less. World Burn Around Me is a minute and fifteen seconds with a chant hook that will stick in your brain and never dislodge. While The Deepest Sleep is three minutes forty four seconds it is all instrumental tender hypnosis. Usually a long instrumental track seventeen songs deep into a hip hop album would make me unhappy but It makes sense in the world THERAVADA built. The music starts the movement like a team whose defense fuels their offense. Once the sounds sparkle he can light the mic. His basketball references are top notch from OJ Mayo to Keyon Dooling. Rob Chambers and Paul Hares do a great job bringing crunchier more hard nosed production to build the world of XENOPHON (see Minesweeper by Paul Hares).
I dig THERAVADA and have always found him fun to listen to but XENOPHON is a total album experience that stands head and shoulders over anything I’ve heard before. In a minute and twenty four seconds on Sircleful he went from “Where were you when they knocked down the towers? ” to “Remember the times when I had rapid eye movement?” to just messing with the audio levels on the outro of the song (total two minutes twenty one seconds). Lyrically these are confessions, diary, social media frustration posts, poetic verse, clipped and sewn together into a wildly colorful emotional quilt. That’s why it’s 21 songs long but not long at all. He never sticks you anywhere for too long. we wander with him. I love how much this album doesn’t care what I think and what I paid for it was just not enough.
Stream then purchase XENOPHON below: