Instrumental hip-hop with an international palette, Gnotes' Inthrumental celebrates the blurry line that separates electronic and organic music. "Technics in the backseat, guitars in the trunk," Gnotes explains on the joyous opening track.
Inthrumental pushes even further the expanding evolution of hip-hop by weaving together a tapestry of diverse sounds into a single living, breathing album. Boom-bap breakbeats provide the foundation for Gnotes' soulful guitar slides and Afro DZ ak's live trumpet solos, while interspliced vocal samples allow Gnotes to speak his mind even without his mic.
Rather than just layering samples over his beats, Gnotes invited fellow Boston musicians to jam over the skeleton of what would eventually become Inthrumental. The result is a bold exploration of the musical possibilities of international hip-hop, with its roots in Brazilian baile funk, Southern blues, British grime, West Coast G-funk, and true-school Afro-Cuban jazz, as if DJ Shadow produced Beck's forthcoming album and invited Ry Cooder and Miles Davis to jam along.
One of the best tracks, "Gift of Prophecy," is a sultry love song with a hypnotic acoustic guitar and regal trumpets in the distance. "Beautiful Story" features a graceful extended trumpet solo from Afro DZ ak of the Eclectic Collective, while rapper Kabir lends some la-di-da to "A Cloudy Day in Cambridge."
The final track, "PreGnotes," features bits of Gnotes' music from before Inthrumental, working backwards from the present to his singer-songwriter days playing acoustic guitar with Ryan Read. Not only does each individual track grow and move with musical dynamism, but the entire album itself seems to be a living creature with purpose and direction. Despite some delightful detours along the way, Inthrumental avoids losing listeners' attention by constantly moving in exciting and unexpected musical directions.