Wax Tailor Hope & Sorrow

French hip-hop producer Wax Tailor solidifies his intricate, cinematic songcraft on his emotionally conflicted sophomore set Hope & Sorrow, a collection of moody slow burners that combine to tell a tale of emptiness and longing. The musical tone is set early on with Wax Tailor laying an array of cleverly diced up vocal drones, guitar strums, synth strings and eerie atmospherics over a plodding break beat in a way that conveys the sense of wandering into an unwelcoming unknown. Restrained string swells, orchestral bass lines, emotive flute melodies and delay-soaked guitar licks play heavy in the producer’s arrangements and offer a balanced sense of live instrumentation to contrast his use of dialogue sound bites and looped, down-tempo rhythms. The vocalists, for their part, are hit and miss. New Orleans MC Voice is essential to the plaintive and distrustful air of "The Games You Play,” the attitude exuded by her piercing barbs and deceptively nonchalant flow is enhanced by Wax Tailor’s sly backing track. For the most part, though, the contributions of the Others, ASM, singer Charlotte Savary and even Sharon Jones seem either slightly inconsequential with all that’s going on behind them or, in Jones’s case, don’t really match the music. Though increasing his vocal work may have been his plan with this record, a few more Wax Tailor instrumentals would have definitely been welcome. (Decon)