Two years after his excellent album Para, Lord RAJA is back with Amadeus, an EP of gritty but playful takes on the dark but clean-cut, self-serious dance floor music he was exposed to while touring continental Europe.
Lord RAJA has a great ear for groove, no matter his instruments or stylistic reference point. "Streets of Rage (ft. Acemo)" opens the album with a fat but tight synth bass line and compressed handclap sounds scrambled into a dope beat somewhere between hip-hop and techno, while "O.K" has a nice juxtaposition of triplets from the synth bass and straight-eighths from the hi-hat, for some off-kilter polyrhythms.
RAJA ties these tracks together into a cohesive whole using recurring sounds and motifs: "Streets of Rage" and "O.K" both play with a spray-paint sizzle occupying the same sibilant frequencies as a hi-hat; darkly squelchy acid house synth lines bump up against harder techno beats in both "Mantra" and "Black Coffee"; and the same 'brrringggg!' falsetto vocal sample that opens "Colors" also chimes in 40 seconds into "Mantra" and at the 1:42 mark of "O.K."
While Amadeus isn't quite as colourful, vibrant and varied as Para, it does demonstrate continued growth and creativity from Lord RAJA, giving plenty of good reason to stay tuned for what he does next. (Ghostly International)