Nujabes
Spiritual State


3.5
great

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
December 6th, 2011 | 99 replies | 34,351 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: His weakest album, and still it's pure bliss.

It didn't take long after Jun Seba's sudden death early last year for the remaining affiliates of Hydeout Productions to announce that there was more Nujabes material in the vaults ready to be released. Great news, we all thought; but then we were made to wait almost two years for it....

The problem with the waiting is that it made you wonder why you were waiting, and soon as you did, all sorts of concerns came to mind. What if this was incomplete material? What if it simply wasn't very good? What if they were waiting for a host of guest rappers to turn up and rap over the tracks left behind? What if it was going to end up - gulp - a collaboration album packed with other people 'paying tribute' to Nujabes by pissing all over his legacy? Unfounded concerns, sure, but hip-hop lovers have been around long enough to know that the genre's moneymakers are very good, and very shameless, at milking the legacies of those who died young. Remember some classless fucknut releasing a 2Pac album called Ready 2 Die? Remember throwing up in your mouth a little bit when you first heard about it? A lot of us do.

Happily, Spiritual State allays all fears almost instantly. The guests are, Haruka Nakamura aside, all people that have worked with Nujabes before - Pase Rock, Substantial, and Uyama Hiroto all appeared on both Modal Soul and Metaphorical Music, and the first two also had their own albums produced by Nujabes - and the sound is still exactly what it always has been, blissed-out hip-hop with strong jazz influences and the occasional touch of world music.

The instant standouts are "Gone Are the Days", which ties a hip-house beat to a sample that sounds suspiciously like John Coltrane's "Naima", and "Far Fowls", which blends a sample of what sounds like a hocchiku with delicate acoustic guitar arpeggios, while the Pase Rock tracks, "City Light" and "Yes", are as solid as ever - I don't rate him that highly as an MC, but it's hard to deny that his laid-back style suits Nujabes' music perfectly. Yet for all the lovely touches throughout (the soft organ entering on "Prayer" is a particularly special one) it's disappointing to note that it's low on standouts compared to Modal Soul in particular - nothing hits quite the same heights as "Thank You" and "World's End Rhapsody".

That makes it tough to react to; if Nujabes was still alive, we'd call this a placeholder album while we waited for his next big move. But of course, he's dead. There won't be any move. There won't be anything else at all. So where does that leave this album, still magnificent at points but undeniably weaker that the two before it?

Here's where - it leaves Nujabes alongside the likes of Ian Curtis, Robert Johnson, Nick Drake, Yonlu, Jimi Hendrix, and Jeff Buckley; all artists that left behind bodies of works that were depressingly small, but incredible in their crystalline decidation to one idea and one mood. Spiritual State might not move forward the ideas from his first two albums at all, but in a lot of ways, it's better that it doesn't. Let's remember Nujabes the way we would have remembered him if this album hadn't been released, and treat this as a gentle, welcome augmentation to a legacy that probably didn't need it. This does add one crucial string to his bow, though; the acknowledgement that his C-grade material sounds like most people's A-grade best.



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user ratings (270)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Dante Alighieri (4.5)
The body may be gone, but the soul is eternal...


Comments:Add a Comment 
cvlts
December 6th 2011



8954 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sucks you didn't dig it as much, but review read like a low/mid-4 so whatevs. ;]

Gyromania
December 6th 2011



15495 Comments


Was not expecting this to be written by you, I must say. Anyways, great review, although I do ultimately disagree with a bit of what you've said.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2011



16135 Comments


Good rating.

coneren
December 6th 2011



11111 Comments


Sweet Santa hats

porch
December 6th 2011



8453 Comments


album's okay but yeah this was needed to balance out some of the typical sputnik overhype in the other thread

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2011



16135 Comments


123

zuzek
December 6th 2011



750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Solid review, in terms of Nujabes I agree it's pretty much a 3.5.. had it been anyone else however..

Gyromania
December 6th 2011



15495 Comments


"album's okay but yeah this was needed to balance out some of the typical sputnik overhype in the other thread"

A lot of people are going to overhype it because of Jun's death, but I legitimately love it, and I'm sure many do. I would go as far as to say that Jun Seba is my favorite hip-hop producer of all-time.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
December 6th 2011



10593 Comments


If I could take this review and Dante's review and put them together, then that would pretty much be my feelings towards this.

Cells
December 6th 2011



1875 Comments


awesome

pedroia55
December 6th 2011



1461 Comments


Pretty album art

letsgofishing
December 6th 2011



901 Comments


Is that summary a backhanded compliment or insult?

AsoTamaki
December 6th 2011



2525 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd say it's simply the truth.

twlichty
December 6th 2011



3407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey put Dante's review back on the front page!



Cells
December 6th 2011



1875 Comments


after spinning this I've come to agree with the summary

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2011



31087 Comments


Woah there, stealing my dibs

Digging: Banks - Goddess

plane
Staff Reviewer
December 7th 2011



6094 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes! Nick!

qwe3
December 7th 2011



21355 Comments


NUJABES 5/5

patrickfannon
December 7th 2011



886 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Wow, this looks sick. Going to grab it right now.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Wolfhorde
December 7th 2011



13011 Comments


I really need get my lazy ass to listen to this.



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