André 3000 | New Blue Sun | Album Review & First Listen
Words by J. Picard
André 3000, half of the defunct hip-hop duo Outkast, makes his triumphant return to the musical foreground with his new album, New Blue Sun. Contrary to his past output, the album features André in a beautifully different context; experimental flute jazz. As a kid I saw Outkast at the Area 1 festival just north of Detroit. The event featured Moby, The Roots, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and more. During that festival, Outkast stole the show with a heavy-hitting funk band to back their lyrical prowess. What was clear to me then and is clear to me now is the value that André 3000 puts on the music itself. For many who were caught off guard by the coming release of New Blue Sun, rest assured, it was always about the instrumentation.
"I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a 'Rap' Album but This is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time," is the twelve minute plus opening track on the album and sets the pace for what will follow. André's wooden flute, melds with Surya Botofasina's synthesizer, Nate Mercereau's guitar and is extenuated with the crashing of symbols and percussive accoutrements courtesy of Carlos Niños. As the music dips in and out of a dreamlike dance in the clouds, it feels like auditory bliss. "The Slang Word P(*)ssy Rolls Off the Tongue with Far Better Ease Than the Proper Word Vagina. Do You Agree?" continues with the same musical line-up and loose instrumentation floating through the cosmos on the whim of a musical adventurer.
The flowery song titles continue with "That Night in Hawaii When I Turned into a Panther and Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn't Control... Shit Was Wild." The musical conversation welcomed Deantoni Parks and his full sounding grandiose low tone percussion to the mix for a deep dive into sonic tribal exploration. The next improvisation "BuyPoloDisorder's Daughter Wears a 3000 Button Down Embroidered" builds in a cacophonous fashion resolving with spacious flute, synth, guitar and percussion before dissolving into the ether.
The album shifts gears welcoming a new musical cast in Diego Gaeta on keys, as well as producer Matthewdavid and violinist V.C.R. for "Ninety Three 'Til Infinity and Beyonce," the most concise track on the album. The menacing "Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Your Lord & Savior J.C. / Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy" welcomes Jesse Peterson and Mia Doi Todd and unfolds in an exploratory fashion with raw acoustic tones intertwining with Todd's breathy spirited vocal chanting. The beauty is in the discomfort of Gaeta's wandering piano and disjointed bass a la Peterson. "Ants to You, Gods to Who?" has a bright and playful feel that meanders along like a spring fed river in some distant interstellar meadow.
The album concludes with the seventeen plus minute "Dreams Once Buried Beneath the Dungeon Floor Slowly Sprout into Undying Gardens" and a return to the journey's original musical cadets, Niño, Mercereau and Botofasina. The closing track is a tranquil meditation through time and space across the great expanse of universal truth; Music. As quickly as it started, it felt like it ended and all I could do was smile. The album is a rotating door of producers and instrumentalists, hand picked for a quest through an celestial forest of other-worldly possibility resulting in improvisational soul resonating perfection. It's the dawn of a new day: The day of the New Blue Sun...