(Out now on Brainfeeder)
Fans far and wide have come to trust the Brainfeeder label to curate and cultivate some of the best musicians and producers the beat (and now jazz) scene has to offer; on Creature Dreams, Toki lives up to the promise of the brand. The EP is replete with Toki’s trademark stuttered and hiccoughing beats and brims with impressive production but the songs still sound fluid, cohesive, uncrowded. “Darkest,” featuring Gavin Turek, combines elements of 18th Street Lounge mid-oughts downtempo with neo-soul vocals ; “Moving Forward” is a mix of processed bongos, arpeggiated sequences, and bubbling flourishes, pinned down by a looping bass. “Stigmatizing Sex” shows off Toki’s impressive production skills—the bass punches along while ambient noises flutter and pan, turning eventually into a harp (or is it a nylon stringed guitar?). Toki has grown as an artist since Midnight Menu: the songs here are more focused and narratives more articulated. Even so, the production is where her maturation is most evident. Each song is packed with thrumming details that are clear without being cold, distinguishable without overwhelming the listener. The songs pulse with energy but they aren’t bangers as much as head-nodders, swimming with details reined in by clever production and tasteful arrangement. Creature Dreams is best listened to repeatedly, at sundown.