Ubiquity artist Nobody is known for albums filled with beat-oriented electronica and remixes along the same lines, so the music of his Blank Blue project isn’t quite what you would expect. Like friend and tourmate Scott Herren (Prefuse 73) and the like-minded Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Elvin Estela must have started to feel the genre’s limitations and gotten infected with a musician’s urge to branch out.
The story goes that after a series of apocalyptic nightmares, Estela decided he wanted to do an album with a singular focus that reflected Los Angeles in much the same way Gary Bartz’s Harlem Bush Music had done for his neighborhood. While describing the idea to Niki Randa, a longtime friend singer and co-worker at the Long Beach record store Fingerprints, he realized he may have found the perfect partner for the album.
Together they worked to create Blank Blue, an album of original compositions that are heavily influenced by psych-rock sample material but not necessarily created from them. The individual songs work best as part of a whole in creating the distinct mood with heavy water influences (which the title references). The tracks have very little space in between them and build from one to the other, creating a rich, layered sound that is Nobody’s most cohesive work to date. As is the case with the work of Flying Lotus (another friend and L.A. resident), the vocals, provided by Randa, almost magically bring his left-leaning tracks to life.
This is progressive mood music that looks, feels and sounds like it came from another time, but it never feels dated. It references a time where people listened to albums front to back and weren’t desensitized by the easy single consumption we’ve all become used to. It may not make your speakers shake , but it will sound just right during a low-key summer rooftop parties.