© 2021 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

First Listen: Maxmillion Dunbar, 'House Of Woo'

Maxmillion Dunbar's new album, <em>House of Woo</em>, comes out Feb. 19.
Shawn Brackbill
Courtesy of the artist
Maxmillion Dunbar's new album, House of Woo, comes out Feb. 19.

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

The first moments of "Slave to the Vibe" are like stepping into an '80s buddy-cop movie soundtrack: An unlikely duo is up to its hijinks again, as a pan flute and some synth whistles roll up their blazer sleeves on the boardwalk. About three minutes in, the beat swagger-jacks the vibe into ultra-aviator mode. It's fun, carefree, deceptively simple. This is Maxmillion Dunbar's M.O., and after 2010's Cool Water and a number of 12" singles, House of Woo, out Feb. 19, is a dazzling and diverse collection of the chillest jamz. (Yes, in this case the word necessitates a "z.")

Maxmillion Dunbar is Andrew Field-Pickering, one-half of the cosmic-disco duo Beautiful Swimmers and co-founder of the Future Times label, all based out of Washington, D.C. A tight-knit electronic-music and DJ scene has formed around Future Times, the style known as moombahton and U Street Music Hall in one of the most unlikely musical movements to come out of the nation's capital. But after spending so much time performing abroad — and bearing in mind America's increasing attraction to the vibe — Maxmillion Dunbar is set to seduce the clubs here.

What makes House of Woo so affecting is Field-Pickering's unabashed enthusiasm for sound. His base may be techno and house — "Ice Cream Graffiti" and the transcendent "Loving the Drift" are the most straightforward cuts here — but the samples are a dollar-bin dive into New Age and smooth '80s and '90s R&B. That's not to say Maxmillion Dunbar looks back; if anything, House of Woo is about any joyful thing that makes the beat. The ethereal synths and single-tear pan flute in "Peeling an Orange in One Piece" should be cheesy, but Field-Pickering makes the song a meditation. "Inca Tag" should sag under the weight of dramatic percussion, but it's by far the most headphone-tickling track of the set. Built up from samples, synths and drum machines, House of Woo focuses on simple ideas, yet shape-shifts like a T-1000, an eternal (but happy) slave to the vibe.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Listen to the Viking's Choice playlist, subscribe to the newsletter.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.