Clutchy Hopkins & Fat Albert Einstein high desert low tide

Clutchy Hopkins & Fat Albert Einstein high desert low tide
Clutchy Hopkins and Fat Albert Einstein have both produced some quirky, left-field hip-hop instrumentals on their own over the last several years, and they're back at it again on high desert low tide, blending funk, jazz and folk into a rich, sloppy stew of beats, grooves and moods.
 
The record feels very homespun, like some friends having fun jamming in a garage or basement who just hit the record button casually. This comes through in the live, raw sound and a few melodies that sound like they were improvised on the spot. The fact that they can seemingly stumble upon greatness — a cool riff here, a catchy hook there — is impressive, but the fact that those little gold nuggets aren't polished up or exploited can be a little bit frustrating.
 
Some of their most rewarding pieces seem to be more planned out, more composed and arranged. "ZERO G'S" is based on an infectious call and response between bass and a couple saxophones, while "NIGHTSHADE" offers some of their lushest instrumentation on the album, and thoroughly constructs a mood of weary apprehension that could aptly soundtrack a sun-bleached bar full of outlaws anywhere in the world. "PRE VINTAGE" continues this mood with a melody that feels like it's melting over a grounded but spacious beat.
 
One weird note: "DOUBLE DRIBBLE" has a saxophone melody that reminds one of the "Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius" part of the Planet of the Apes musical from The Simpsons (once you hear it, you can't un-hear it). Given the musical quirkiness these guys display here though, they'd probably enjoy this serendipity.
 
Aside from the annoying guitar solo at the very end of the album, the rest of it is a pretty fun, unique trip. (Independent)