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As One
Out Of The Darkness

Kirk Degiorgio, otherwise known as As One, is a truly masterful producer. His work spans the electronic spectrum, always on the cutting edge, whether dabbling in techno, experimental, IDM or avant-garde jazz. His 2003 Ubiquity Records retrospective, So Far So Good, effectively documented this gamut of influences, and summarized his body of work, tracing the patterns of all these styles and their points of intersection.

His latest work, Out of the Darkness, was originally titled "Into the Darkness," but a series of positive life changes, such as the birth of his son, inspired the transformation into its more cheerful state. This introspective, in-built optimism gives rise to some of Degiorgio's best work yet, drawing on those threads of soul and jazz evident in his previous work, and amplifying them, in tandem with futuristic beats, into a collection of true future soul.

The beats come in all tempos on Out of the Darkness, but are usually some derivation of the broken variety. The album opens on an immediate high with "Hope," an uplifting broken-beat anthem enhanced by gospel-style vocals. In a similarly optimistic vein — and possibly the best track on the album — is "Shed Dem." The melding of Degiorgio's warm electronic production with the soothing, encouraging vocals of Cathy Battistessa results in a brilliant, heartwarming episode of soulful, downtempo broken beat that has been described as "modern folk-soul."

Ever the experimentalist, Degiorgio prods at the boundaries of genres as he feels around for the blurry area where he collapses slowed-down broken beats into hip-hop breaks. His partner in crime in these jaunts is MC Lacks, who provides competent flows on "It Ain't Nothin" and "Do You Know." The former is a jazzy, downtempo/hip-hop excursion; the latter, while suffering a tad from a lyrically lazy hook, features a shimmering hybrid of hip-hop, broken beat and organic jazz courtesy of some warm keys.

Lest these hip-hop tracks, along with the Weldon Irvine cover of "I Love You," which oozes old-time soul from the plaintive vocals to the dusty-sounding drums — get you thinking Degiorgio's gone all soft, he pulls out some tougher-edged instrumentals for the dance floor. "Leviathan" and "Sanctified" stick more closely to the broken-beat format, but as always his production is richly layered without being fussy. Live percussion intertwines with warm synths while snares snap and basslines rumble. It's an organic collision of studio and soul.

There's not much to fault on Out of the Darkness. Perhaps the weakest moment is the Spacek-ish "I'm Down." The imploringly high-pitched male vocals are a bit of a trigger for the "skip" button. That said, Out of the Darkness is one of my favorite albums of 2004, a brilliant work. A must-have for fans of broken beat, nu-jazz or any form of electronic soul.

by Lucy Beer

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