There is no way I could summarize the work of Carlos Niño in just one paragraph. The Los Angeles based producer, arranger, composer and musician is involved in Build an Ark, Ninja Tune’s AmmonContact, The Life Force, What’s The Science? or Hu Vibrational. His latest EP on Stones Throw payed tribute to J Dilla by interpreting his music with a full orchestra and was later performed live. Some call him a driving force of the L.A. music scene. With his wide repertoire he is surely one of the most gifted producers.
His latest work is titled High With A Little Help From and is put out under the name Carlos Niño & Friends. What started as a record session with fellow Build An Ark members, turned into a wonderful journey through analogue ambience and field recordings. Among the friends on the record are longtime collaborators Gaby Hernandez, Dwight Trible and Dexter Story.
High With A Little Help From is different of what I heard from Carlos Niño so far. While it’s closer to Build an Ark‘s sound, it does not have the soulful or jazzy feel. It’s an album shifting between folky and cinematic themes, almost entirely without the use of percussive instruments, and it’s not following any classic song structures. The richness of sound, its dreaminess, is created by a combination of analogue instruments, natural soundscapes and effects from the machine.
02. 9 Moons Full
03. With Azul
04. Ants and Elephants
05. Aquarius (Rough mix)
06. Lonely Joined By Happy
07. Rosarito/Creative Cries
09. 9 Moons Return
10. Rabbit Island
11. Wonder Wheel (CD-version bonus)
The album offers a set of reoccuring themes, atmospheric waves like the sound of the sea or that of children playing, stretching throughout the album like on a cinematic soundtrack. You will listen to this all over again, the album is not about its individual tracks, it’s the product of all of them. However, there are differences, ranging between an electronic, almost dubby track like Aquarius to an Elliot Smith reminiscent Rabbit Island, between the chants of Dwight Trible to peaceful harps and soft pianos.