By Toussaint Egan
On their first collaborative album, Vocalist Kitty Wong and Producer Nathan “Sinitus Tempo” Peters crafted a collection of ten tracks heavily devoted to a jazzy downtempo sound. As described by another online music publication, Disengage is like a mix of “early Esthero with Samurai Champloo soundtracks and early Little Dragon”. There really isn’t another description as concise and appropriate as that and it’s exciting to find an artist with this much potential, and releasing their music for free no less!
“Summer Nights” is the true start to the album, even though it’s the second song, beginning with what deceptively seems at first a faint somber twanging guitar line before popping abruptly up into an upbeat hip-hop driven beat with Wong’s vocals smoothly floating across the beat. “Universal” is begins with a beautiful violin crescendo and carries that momentum for the rest of song, acting as the perfect tune for the holidays, and “Searching “is a dreamy boom-bapping drum line instrumental with Wong’s ghostly vocals overlapping and sinking into the background. But without a doubt my favorite song off the album is definitely “Change,” with its fast orientation of clashing cymbals, deep mournful cello lines, tantalizingly sparse tambourine shakes and faint maracas.
Picking highlight tracks from this album is hard, but not because there is a lack of quality material. It’s because the quality of production is spread so far thin across the entire album that the songs begin to blend together in in their sameness. Every track does something right, something either aurally compelling or at the very least interesting, but it is seldom that any of those elements come together and crescendo into one undeniably great song. The faintness of Kitty Wong’s voice is both a benefit and detriment to numerous songs from the album. She at times can be so faint that it can render her lyricism, while still beautiful and appealing, nearly indiscernible from the dwarfing presence of Peter’s production.
No, it’s not perfect and it could do better with a broader range of orchestral variety, but given the overall quality of this album’s production and the fact that it is being freely distributed from their Bandcamp website, Disengage is a small but rare treat for any jazzy hip-hop enthusiast and should not be missed.
In the depths of winter, Kitty Wong and Nathan Peters create a near-invincible summer, if only hindered not by a lack of ambition but by a lack of diversity. This collaboration bears a lot of fruitful moments and I look forward to what they produce next.
Must Hear Tracks: Summer Nights, Universal, Searching, Change