Alias and Ehren Lillian

Having seemingly exhausted at last the possibilities of recombination within Oakland’s promiscuous and prolific Anticon crew, Hollis, Maine native Brendon Whitney — better known to the hip-hop world under his Alias alias — turns to his multi-instrumentalist brother Ehren to round out the sounds on Lillian, a sun-soaked instrumental tribute to the Whitney boys’ late grandmother. Here, Alias brings to the table what Alias always brings to the table: pop-and-click percussion, warm synth, subtle guitars gently plucked, intricate dynamics, and a lot of fuzz. Ehren, 11 years Brendon’s junior, adds flute, clarinet, and alto and soprano saxophones, offering the woodwinds as soft accents alongside the sounds more readily identifiable from Alias’ previous instrumental outing Eyes Closed, his mostly-instrumental Muted, and the beats he’s produced for a who’s-who of underground MCs. Lillian’s arrangements only rarely call Ehren to the fore, but when they do, he blows like stink: "Back and Forth” features the only full-throttle solo on the record, but what a solo, careening in and around the track’s blissed-out major key chord progression. But restraint is the principal mode here. These delicate and graceful compositions are as fine as any in Alias’ estimable body of work. (Anticon)