One year ago, while checking email in a public library, I received an early draft of I and I’s new record, ‘White Noise/Black Music’ which I immediately downloaded and started playing(On headphones, of course!). In a word, I was blown away. I had heard early versions of some of the songs months before, and had contributed some guitar parts, but I was not prepared for how much the songs, the production, the overall vision of the record had developed. Fans of previous I and I stuff will recognize the mix of pushing boundaries while nodding to influences, the expansive soundscapes and, above all, Adam’s soulful voice. But despite these similarities, there is something markedly distinct about this album … the evolutionary term “the great leap forward” comes to mind. Same species, but equipped with something hugely different, something that opens up a vast number of new possibilities.
Like most great records, WN/BM manages to sound lush without being overly crowded with instruments and sounds. Where I and I’s 2005 full-length ‘We Are’ was pleasantly hectic and busy at times, Sarmiento has here pared down substantially, giving us laid-back dance grooves, a few essential tone colors per song, and minimalist seasonings that underscore the fact that each part in a composition is both harmonic and rhythmic. This is indeed a ‘dance’ record in some sense, but bears a closer resemblance to those rare great records (Talking Head’s ‘Remain in Light’ and New Order’s ‘Power, Corruption, and Lies’ are two that come to mind) that make you move, think, feel, and continue humming long after leaving the club. No small feat.
One track from the album is available for free download here, and the rest can be purchased in mp3 format from your preferred online music retailer. For those who still like to have a physical object in their hands, and cd quality tracks for their ears, click the paypal link here to buy the disc directly from the Alchemist collective. Visit www.iandimusic.com for more about the album and Adam’s new blog Weekly Noise.