Nomad No Magic

While Belgian rapper/singer Nomad has contributed vocals to his electronic hip-hop groups (Cavemen Speak and Gunporn), as well as Canadian MC Epic for a one-shot collaboration album, it's his solo work that allows him the greatest opportunity to stretch his legs and explore the boundaries of his chosen art form. No Magic is his third effort and the mix of folk, indie rock, electronica and hip-hop created should appeal to fans of Clotheshorse Records' soso, Anticon's WHY? and Fake Four's Ceschi Ramos. Nomad's nasal-inflected singing is distinct and in demand amongst a certain section of indie hip-hop acts, but it can take some getting used to, a task made easier thanks to his simple stories, quirky lyrics and the repetitive nature of his song structures. Nomad's production also plays to those strengths, with a peculiar lo-fi style that fuses a break beat backbone of hip-hop drums to a skeleton of electronic sounds, folk instruments and unique sample choices favouring high-end sounds. There are tracks like "Echo" that combine drums, synth and organ to create an epic hip-hop track for Nomad to sing all over. But more often the results are like "Hajani," a simple, folklore-like tale backed by a folksy guitar loop and the occasional soaring string section, with a little extra triangle to close it out, the melancholy "Empty Ocean," with its plodding piano, bass accompaniment and minimal drums, or "The Man," which incorporates medieval instrumentation for a Frank Zappa-inspired royal court waltz. No Magic is catchy, if rather unorthodox. (Marathon of Dope)