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c h i Present New Album 'hddn Snd'

The artist c h i is a singer/songwriter that incorporates hip-hop production into the nine tracks on his hddn Snd EP. The Weeknd comes to mind often when listening to these various songs, yet this performer also has his own unique sound.

Clearly, c h I likes lower case letters and abbreviations. The EP name and even his artist name can be read as shorthand. He also mostly avoids upper case letters. Even the celebrity actor-named “tom cruise” does away with all capitalization.

In many cases, c h i mixes rapping with high-voiced singing, as happens during “holla!,’ which is backed by sparse keyboard sounds and equally sparse percussion. If what c h i creates is a rap/soul hybrid, one can also say it is a lo-fi mixture. As “holla!’ demonstrates, these songs are never a dense mixture of instrumentation. Instead, c h i mostly takes a lowkey approach to creating his songs. In fact, he rarely sounds like he’s even breaking a sweat. One titled “closer,” is a slight exception to this rule, as he begins to sound somewhat passionate during the performance of it.

The project’s most intriguing title, of course, is “tom cruise.” Inquiring minds want (need?) to know if this is about that famous man’s sex life, his commitment to Scientology or some other tabloid topic.

It’s difficult to determine what – if anything – this lyric has to do with the Hollywood star. It does, however, have a memorable percussion part, which sounds to be inspired by world music rhythms. However, c h i sings it with such a low voice, it requires great concentration just to make out the words he’s saying. When one does so, though, it sounds to more about c h i’s love life and relationships, than anything at all to do with Mr. Top Gun.

One called “worst ways” is much more interesting, sonically, at least. It’s built upon a chopped up electric guitar part, which sounds like a sampled jazz guitar solo that’s been reimagined and manipulated in the studio. Once again, c h i sings it in that down low tone, as though you’d almost need to be his lover with your ear to his mouth in order to fully understand it.

The album closes with “let go,” which is the most upbeat inclusion of these nine EP recordings. In fact, it has a bit of a dance groove and c h i sings some of it slightly above his usual ‘how low can you go?’

voice. Nevertheless, he does also works some low notes into the track’s mix. The drumming toward the end does bear some resemblance to African percussion.

Like The Weeknd, c h i appears to shroud himself somewhat in mystery. What is no mystery, however, is how much he sounds to enjoy experimenting in the studio with unusual melodic and percussive parts.

Even with The Weeknd comparison, he still doesn’t sound too much like anybody else. One can only imagine what this artist would do with a larger recording budget. Then again, he might just prefer to remain lo-fi. This is because he’s able to do a whole lot, with just a little.

Yep, this is one fascinating little EP.

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