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Headnod Suite


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  • After Stones Throw's 2012 release of Alone Together, business for Karriem Riggins resumed as usual. The native Detroiter continued to alternate between jazz and hip-hop spheres with drums provided for Theo Croker, Esperanza Spalding, and Norah Jones, a co-production credit on Kanye West's "30 Hours," a collaboration with Kaytranada, and the top-to-bottom handling of Common's fiery Black America Again. That summarizes only the studio work documented during the period between Riggins' own output. Headnod Suite, his inviting second album, is not radically different from the debut. It offers another raft of concise, predominantly sample-oriented tracks that adds up to a wide-scoped collage of sounds bound by hip-hop. This time, the pieces tend to last a little longer, though the ones that break 90 seconds often land somewhere very different from where they began, and there's a little more emphasis on beats that knock with enough space left to impel rappers. Compared to Alone Together, fewer sounds here -- topped by the warped seesawing melody that slices through "Tandoor Heat," one of several so-inflexible-it's-funky moments -- astound enough to trigger a "What was that?" reaction. All the phase shifting, deft layering, and alterations of globetrotting sources, however, are capable of causing enough delighted bafflement to leave listeners satisfied until Riggins' third round. The livelier moments include a hysterical fun-house mirror reflection of a certain 1972 soul ballad ("Sista Misses"), the creation of humorous dialogue between two drastically different records ("Crystal Stairs"), and an ice-melting groove that Riggins loops for nearly two generous minutes ("Fluture"). Each one of these 34 tracks has at least one distinguishing component, whether it's a tipsy bassline, some neo-Kraftwerk synthesizer science, or a distended vocal interjection. There's only a little in-the-flesh assistance. Over a lightly clinking backdrop, "Suite Poetry" showcases Jessica Care Moore's striking poetry, and "Suite Outro" features Riggins, bassist Derrick Hodge, and keyboardist James Poyser casually working out a rhythm as wistful and sweet as anything by the Blackbyrds, minus brass and saxophone. Via live recording, Common reprises his festive Scatman Lynn role on "Yes Yes Y'all": "Yeah Dee-troit! Dat-dat, dat, dat-dat." Yes indeed. ~ Andy Kellman
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