With Voices


    Approach the collaboration between bedroom deejay/producers and vocalists with the trepidation of offers by credit card companies: oh, so much you’ll throw away.


    Carlos Nino and Fabian Ammon of the L.A.-based electronic duo Ammoncontact thought it a good idea to add voices to their fourth album. Such logic was once a meeting of the minds that could produce timeless greatness Noel Gallagher on the Chemical Brothers‘ “Setting Sun”; Kool Keith on the Prodigy‘s “Diesel Power.” At the very least it was a conversation piece. Now, however, it takes hand-in-glove chemistry and creative planning to net a desired effect. With Voices, although tastefully ambitious and pleasantly eclectic, rarely packs that wallop.


    To their credit, Nino and Ammon leave few stones unturned, and the results add up to a surprisingly cohesive mood-mix of tribal-rhythm jazz, hip-hop and lounge. The laundry list of guests does little to help or hurt; if anything, the mere idea of sharing tracks with some of these folks seems to have inspired Ammoncontact, even if the final products aren’t as interesting. Kamau Daaood’s spoken-word piece fits nicely into “A Zillion Tambourines” but wouldn’t have been missed were it deleted (it’s the climbing instrument changes that give the track heft). Likewise, Sach’s rap in “Through the Pauses” isn’t distracting but plays second to the pulsing snares and panicky backdrop. Daedelus shows up for the wonderful “Sleep Stasis,” an ethereal little thing that could’ve just as easily found its way onto his latest album.


    Only Mia Doi Todd‘s atmospheric turn on “Earth’s Children” feels like two parts creating something wholly bigger. Over hissy, dragging percussion and faint strings, Todd’s voice pierces the track through beauty alone, ricocheting and drifting and never overdone. Like the pairing of Massive Attack and Elizabeth Fraser, kinship emerges that makes you wonder why they hadn’t tried this before, makes you realize how easily it could’ve slipped away. Frustratingly, moments like this are always worth sifting for.


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