Diego Bernal’s sophomore long player went live for
free download just a month after the release of Madlib Medicine Show No. 3:
Beat Konducta in Africa. Minus the manic edits and pleasantly corny
one-offs that characterize Madlib’s beat tapes-gone-official albums, “Besides…” bursts with layers of borrowed Latin soul and ceaseless record crackling,
playing almost like a Beat Konducta in ‘60s Spanish Harlem,
if such a treat existed.
Breaking from his day job in civil rights law, the
Texas-based Diego Bernal moonlights at his sampler/sequencer workstation. He
trims snare thwacks and polishes attic-weathered brass samples to charge them
with new oxygen, building drum-heavy stormers from the ground-up. The
individual trips on “Besides…” aren’t markedly lengthier or
all that different from those on last year’s For Corners, but they take
shape in a more tangible manner, and plucking them from the set to stand on
their own is easier this time around. “El Corrido de Chico B” is
representative of the fully realized arrangements that Bernal turns in on “Besides…”.
The dusty congas at the onset provide merely a clever base; “El
Corrido…” is a floor-filler by its third minute, with flutes, chiming
guitar, and fat organ tones piled on top of a punchy snare-kick combo.
Meanwhile, “Blue Neon” creeps like an Illmatic outtake, and
Bernal floods the less linear “A Long Second” with ample mood shifts
and extreme channel-panning trumpets. In its irregular tumble and unfurling
Moogs, it’s a stark contrast to the glitchy “Cumbiatches Brew”, with
the two sharing little more than that bed of cherished, secondhand-vinyl hiss.
An ode to Jay Dee opened Bernal’s tasteful 2009 debut,
and while the producer arguably nods in the direction of Madlib, Cut Chemist,
and other dollar-bin obsessives that laid the groundwork for outings like “Besides…”,
this is his own, distinctive beat music.
Standout Tracks: “A Long Second,” “El Corrido de
Chico B” DOMINIC UMILE