Restored 25 June 2017, originally published 10 May 2014
If you’re in need of a hip-hop fix, look no further than Ufmo’s Unfamiliar.
I couldn’t find out much about the artist other than he’s Russian in origin, and I’m still not certain of that. A bunch of comments on his Last.fm page look to be in Russian, so maybe it’s true.
Onto the album, you can get through all 14 of its tracks in under 30 minutes. Not only is it short, but the track-to-track variety and high-quality execution make it an extremely easy listen. (So easy, in fact, that I find myself looping it over and over again quite unintentionally.) You get lots of jazz intermixed with bits of psychedelia, soul, boom-bap, rap (French), R&B, and turntablism, all in this brief half-hour of musical excellence. Of course, the tracks are all short, but that’s only negative insofar as some of the tracks are so good that I want them to go on longer.
“Vintage” is very much jazz-oriented in its emphasis of the trumpet, upright bass, and drums, to the exclusion of almost everything else. There are a few samples here and there, but it feels simple and classic-cool. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Black Chamber (which I included in my top three albums of 2013). It’s a stand-out for me based on the execution. It leads off with a sexy saxophone before the drum and bass join in. Then, after a fade out, a trumpet picks up the action until another fade-out and the track more or less repeats itself.
“Ss” stands out to me for the juxtaposition of soft, soulful vocals and harder elements like hip-hop samples (“Yeah!”, “This won’t stop!”), a prominent beat, and turntables. The turntables are like a blender, uniting everything into a delicious hip-hop smoothie.
If nothing else, Unfamiliar is cool and relaxing, perfect.
Ufmo – “Vintage”
Ufmo – “Ss”
Unfamiliar release page