If I think about the present world of underground instrumental beatmaking what I see is the domain of one precise tendency: lo-fi.
If you are not familiar with lo-fi you probably have never used Youtube to find some new music in the past two years and therefore have never encountered one of those “Lo-fi beats to study/relax [read: smoke weed]” compilation video/stream that usually come with an anime thumbnail.
Born from the ashes of vaporwave in the bedrooms of melancholy teens, lo-fi beat is a weeb-emo-chill-infused musical style mostly based on digital sampling and sequencing, which makes it pretty affordable and also accessible from a compositional viewpoint. And although I think it is a good thing for people to have the possibility to make their own music and express themselves with practically zero money and experience (amauterism will save the world), I am not gonna lie, I am pretty fed up with hearing the same dirty, reverberated piano loops on a slow beat over and over.
This is why I loved “Unrandom Instrumentals”, the first EP from the Italian producer, drummer and DJ known as Ni_so (moniker of Niso Tozzi).
Born in Rome in 1994 and currently based in Bologna, this young artist has a big love for black music, both African and Afroamerican, which has brought him to take a less straightforward approach to beatmaking, going back to the analogue roots of this musical practice. His creative process starts in fact from old-shcool vinyl digging in record stores across Italy and Netherlands. When he finally finds a record which gives him good vibes, he then samples it using the chopping technique with his MPC Renaissance, thus turning it into the materials he uses to compose his songs. But Ni_so has also an ear for the present time, so every sample he extract gets processed and arranged in a modern way, mixing old sounds and new sounds as well.
As stated by the title “Unrandom Instrumentals” proposes to the listener an unorganized collection of works, acting as a showcase of Ni_so’s refined taste in vinyl-digging and his ability to create songs using samples that come from a great variety of musical styles. All four of the tracks in fact presents a very sharp shifting in terms of atmosphere, sound and rhythm, with an undeniable grooviness being the main constant.
“Basic Language”, the album’s intro, is a dark slow-jam that evokes the collaboration between KAYTRANADA and BADBADNOTGOOD with its deep bass-line but adds a wonderful tribal touch to it thanks to the sampled Egyptian percussion constantly shaking in the background.
This dark atmospheres is preserved in “Mulaut”, the second track, but its shade goes suddenly from tribal to erotic trough a slowed-down, sexy saxophone sample from the ethio-jazz maestro Mulatu Astatine’s eponymous track. The rhythmic section performed by the fat drums of this song is also amazing, using accents in a way that is catchy and complex at the very same time and showing the importance of Ni_so’s experience as a drummer in the making of his beats.
“The Heat”, the third track, presents an even stronger shifts in terms of sounds, being built around an early country blues guitar and vocal sample that lightens up the atmosphere. As with “Mulaut”, the drum-line of this song is also impeccable and maybe even more interesting in the way it relates with the looping sample of the blues rhythmic guitar, giving the impression that the drums have the leading roles. The EP’s conclusion, “Till Next Time”, is a bright goodbye to the listener that turns a bittersweet jazz piano and drum sample into a chilly jam that resembles some of mura masa’s early works, showing yet another musical style this young producer is able to change into something completely new.
So if you love instrumentals beats and are looking for something new and well produced at the same time you should definitely give “Unrandom Instrumentals” a listen and then join me in the waiting for Ni_so’s first LP.
Listen to Ni_so’s “Unrandom Instrumentals” below: