Thursday, August 26, 2010

128 Oz. of Haterade: 'Lions, Fires & Squares,' by Carolyn Malachi

The Washington Post has described Carolyn Malachi's music as "hard to put into words," but to me, it's pretty simple. If you took an empowered female, put her at the head of the P-Funk All-Stars and asked them to tone down the weirdness just a little bit, you'd have Carolyn Malachi.

The six tracks (two remixes) on Lions, Fires & Squares, purportedly influenced by the D.C. native's recent trip to South Africa, encompass slow-rolling funk, spoken-word, R&B, the occasional video-game bleep and anything else that seems to fit.

"Textual" finds Malachi requesting "Let's get textual/I think you wanna know what's on my mind/Can't talk/I gotta run/I got a gun pointed at my personal time," as an uptempo groove suddenly spins off in rivulets of triplets, with guest HHR contributing an excellent verse.

"Orion" has her falling for the ageless constellation, inviting "Hey space cowboy/I want you in my interplanetary good vibe zone" as waves of neo-soul and harmony wash over the bottom-heavy beat.

A Claire Hux remix of "Textual" gives it a club-music spin, and Kokayi adds a syncopated swagger on a remix of "Orion," but it's Malachi's smooth, sliding alto that commands the most attention.

I haven't heard her first two records yet, but I'm happy to work backwards from here. Chances are, it'll be a worthwhile journey.

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