In a year flooded with ambient music releases, only one stands out as a sonic masterpiece, and it comes from none other than André 3000, the elite-tier rapper with a 13-times-Platinum record. After a 16-year hiatus since the groundbreaking Outkast, fans have eagerly awaited something more than sporadic guest verses from André 3000. Instead, the superstar has embraced a nomadic, bohemian persona, serenading audiences with his flute in airports, coffee shops, sidewalks, and even yoga classes. Now, the wait is over, and his debut album, New Blue Sun, is the full bloom of his middle-aged immersion into gentle drones and minimalist reedwork.
Breaking Expectations: André 3000’s Ambient Odyssey
With a warning label proclaiming “No Bars” and intriguing song titles like “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time,” fans approached André 3000’s 87-minute ambient music odyssey with cautious optimism. Fortunately, the journey through New Blue Sun proves to be a stunning, deeply contemporary, and prismatic breath of fresh incense.
Riding the New Age Wave
New Blue Sun not only showcases André 3000’s artistic evolution but also signals a peak in the decade-long crescendo of the hipsterati new age revival. Reissue labels like Numero Group, Light in the Attic, and Rvng Intl. paved the way in the early 2010s by resurrecting private press American new age music. This movement liberated the genre from its past reputation as crystals-and-wind-chimes uncoolness, positioning it as a vibrant American folk tradition filled with DIY energy. Artists ranging from Alanis Morrisette to Moby, 6lack, Sufjan Stevens, and even actor Jeff Bridges have found varying degrees of success in the healing tones of new age music over the past few years.
Synthesizing Sounds: New Blue Sun‘s Sonic Landscape
New Blue Sun aligns seamlessly with the ethos of the scrappy, prolific Los Angeles cassette tape label, Leaving Records. This imprint, existing at the intersection of ambient, new age, jazz, improv, and experimental electronic music, sees many of its roster artists — Matthewdavid, Carlos Niño, Deantoni Parks, V.C.R — joining forces to enhance and complement André’s melodies. Together, they transform his cycling curlicues of digital flute into a communal bouillabaisse of swelling cymbals and alien glitter, creating a sonic tapestry that transcends genres and captivates listeners. André 3000’s foray into ambient music with New Blue Sun is not just a departure; it’s a revelation, inviting everyone to embark on a mesmerizing auditory journey.
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