Review Summary: Riddim and huesColón Man
is an album of many coequals, like a polyhedron. It has a sense of precision that relies on complimentary opposites. For starters, the name takes historical inspiration, drawing from Jamaican workers who were instrumental in building the Panama Canal in the late nineteenth / early twentieth centuries, and returned home rich with knowledge and coin; as well, the album feels forward-thinking and independent of time. We also get tingles of clinical poking and prodding, with cuts like “Plantain Porridge” hitting like a plexor, yet the songs feel equal parts surgeon and shaman. The crew, Jamaican producers Equiknoxx, take cues from the spirit of dancehall, but through a lens of sobriety (allegedly, Gavin Blair and Jordan Chung neither drink nor smoke) and lack of blatant sexual fête (their music on the LP is wordless). The beats are fluid and head-nodding juke, yet are complimented by concrete noises and experimental sensibilities. If any of these many balances fell askew, Colón Man
probably wouldn’t work; but, they don’t, and it does.
While Colón Man
is probably best to observe from afar, it’s nearly as fun to examine the minutiae. Songs like “Flank” have a kooky mode of exploration and suspense, like The Twilight Zone
meets Dr. No
, and the beats pitter and patter as though driven by jungle fervour. Many of the songs are easy to get lost in, yet one can always be re-directed to the dance floor. “Sent for the Ducklings Got Ducks” could almost be the backdrop for a neo-noir vignette, as it feels sinister and brief, yet there is an unavoidable pulse of sexuality. “Enter a Raffle Win a Falafel” samples office noises - keyboard and copiers and such - alongside the screeches of hawks and Eastern strings. It’s never too obvious where exactly the songs are located, or where the listener is meant to take them. The percussion is varied, sometimes oozing, sometimes ticking, consistently relying on dancehall polyrhythms yet aways indulging in detours. No song sounds quite the same, yet they tie together immaculately, and Colón Man
manages to be everywhere at once. In an age where producers obsess over the here and now, it’s refreshing to be swept away in the back then, thereafter, and wherever.