Palm Springs DJ/producer Damien Beebe – here trading as Day after dropping the “DJ” prefix – is sonically rooted in a sun-kissed past throughout his second album.
These instrumentals, each throwing forward to mellow summertime socialising, recall those moments when hip hop successfully got down with jazz, down-tempo grooves the prevailing constituent. There are shades of The Private Press-period DJ Shadow, samples blending with live arrangements.
Many tracks represent the kind of cut that a Mos Def or Q-Tip could triumphantly spill a few rhymes over. They would lend themselves to chilled, consciously flowed prose. Land of 1000 Chances is, simply, an excellent exercise in nostalgia.
Which means that its place in 2013’s hip hop landscape is resolutely beneath the radar.
Day doesn’t have the arsenal for hype-rappers to rock to. His approach is distinct due to an assembly that might’ve previously been branded homogenised. Today it’s refreshing, but at odds with mainstream trends.
The remixes across Day’s career – which began in the mid-90s – tell a story of sorts, which can be interpreted to outline the man’s appeal. Aloe Blacc, Alice Russell and People Under the Stairs have all commissioned Day reworks; and fans of those artists’ oeuvres will find much to enjoy here.
And “enjoy” is the right word. Land of 1000 Chances isn’t a challenge at any turn. Melodies are mellifluous and percussion tight and snappy, soulful vocal samples embellishing proceedings with rewarding richness.
The title track is a standout, laidback of wandering guitar but skipping onwards on sprightly beats. Mama Shelter locks into a groove that’d be described as robotic if it didn’t eventually shift to gentle woodwind-like tones and luxurious vocal harmonies.
Certain tracks – Sushi in Fresno, Ode to a Fiend – are too interlude-like to leave a lasting impression, but they’re pleasant nonetheless. Partir has something oddly ELO-like about it, nothing but blue skies on its horizon.
The album’s leisurely pace means it’s one for when warm nights stretch out and good company comprises the key accompaniment. But even when undersold as background fare, rap fans with more grey hairs than the Bible’s got psalms are guaranteed satisfaction from Day’s latest.