“It Started as a Remix for Elvin” may sound like an unfinished post-it note on a CD-R, but as the name of the fourth track on Ammoncontact’s New Birth, it works just fine. Just as they did on One in an Infinity of Ways, released only six months or so prior to this, Carlos Nino and Fabian Ammon continue on New Birth to explore instrumental hip-hop by way of jazz, electronic flourishes and spacey funk grooves with help from both live and synthesized elements. But the album’s back ‘n’ forth duality — between keeper tracks and those that are just okay — is ultimately what hurts it.
Not surprisingly, Nino’s Build an Ark project has an effect on New Birth. The progressive funk and soul elements present in his side band often make their way into the instrumental realm of Ammoncontact. There’s an atmosphere of improvisation and what can be seen as freeform jamming on some of New Birth, but at times it may stray too far into comfortable grooves before anything really takes off.
“Futuro” runs a solid couple of minutes before any new ideas filter into the mix. But the dissonant organ that floats into the background in short, fleeting jabs isn’t enough to carry the nearly four-minute track. It doesn’t come anywhere close to the vibrancy of One in an Infinity of Ways‘ “Healing Vibrations,” whereby an older-sounding percussion-centered jam bookends the song’s unexpected and rather restrained middle section.
On the other hand, “Omniverses 2” sticks closer to a warm, keys-heavy vibe, with ’60s pop backup vocals playing a gospel-chorus role over a consistent, churning melody. It’s one of the record’s top slots. But the juxtaposition between the good songs and the fine ones is too much to take. After listening to some of these tracks for a few minutes, the idea of anything new being birthed is far from materializing.