The tracklisting gives a good idea as to what Ammoncontact are all about. Dreamy, Healing Vibrations, Like Waves Of The Sea – all suggest an album for the small hours, a record to enjoy horizontally.
It proves a reliable guide. The duo is straight out of the West Coast – Los Angeles to be precise – and comprise of high school buddies Carlos Nino and Fabian Ammon. This is their first album for the ever-enterprising Ninja label, following a host of releases on underground labels and compilations. The hip hop legacy of their geographical base has left its mark – The Pharcyde especially loom large. But Ammoncontact do not rely too heavily on external influences and arrive at their own minimal style.
Occasionally it’s difficult to know if there’s anything going on. Healing Vibrations hits a loop of light percussion brushstrokes that threaten to become stuck in an admittedly comfortable rut. Fun Is For Funky takes a bigger beat and staggers the hi-hat just enough to give an ‘out of time’ feel, but this too will be just the wrong side of minimal for some tastes.
Elsewhere however the approach works effortlessly. The duo write closed loops of melody and/or harmony that stand up easily to repetition, punctuated by noise or melodic fragments that impose little but keep the musical picture under a constant, subtle process of change.
The sudden, unexpected warmth of Good Life To Groove has a positive impact with its full bass tones, and the opening of Love Letters implies the duo have a familiarity with 20th Century classical music. Ballad Of The Untitled is an extremely evocative piece, and the whispered lyric “you got the rhythm, I got the rhythm” provides Keepintime with an atmospheric hook.
Ninth track Like Waves Of The Sea is led by an acoustic bass complete with fingerboard vibrations. Every small sonic detail taken care of, the melody is allowed to make its own unhurried course. The final, title track springs a surprise with the album’s only vocal, harking back to the beginning musically but with Dwight Tribble’s highly distinctive rapping voice. The track ends with a strangely affecting piece of humming, over all too soon.
But then this is the sort of album the ‘repeat’ function was made for – a record equally at home in foreground or background, its unhurried ways and refreshing lack of production reasons why it works in those nocturnal hours. It gives further credence to Ninja’s healthy knack of spotting new or under-exposed talent and bringing it to a wider audience.