Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
California rapper/singer/DJ/yoga teacher Gonjasufi has been closely associated with fellow smoked-out West Coast beatsmiths Flying Lotus and Gaslamp Killer, who helped him make his 2010 debut, A Sufi And A Killer, one of the strangest albums to come out that year. His woozy growl evokes George Clinton at his most hallucinatory, or maybe Ol' Dirty Bastard at his most soulful, while the production feels like Lee Scratch Perry dubbing out rare funk grooves in a broken-down home studio. His approach is both abrasive and comatose-mellow simultaneously, and sounds like how a bad weed addiction probably feels.
In general it pays to avoid electronic producers with dreadlocks, but let Sumach ‘[a]Gonjasufi[/a]’ Ecks be your exception. Kaftan-clad denizen of the Mojave Desert, he found his way to Warp Records through the patronage of [a]Flying Lotus[/a], with whom he shares a similar mood of DMT-dazed psychedelia. Less wild than his debut, this self-produced second turns things down to a thick, inky gloom.
Gonjasufi's brain thinks bomb-like: it makes him angry with himself, with his "life of sin"; furious with the greedy, and those who divide to rule; fearful of God; respectful of fate. It's not easy to pick this up from MU.ZZ.LE, because almost every word he utters is either heavily distorted or buried beneath prismatic dub-hop beats. Unlike his debut album, 2010's A Sufi and a Killer, a sprawling collaboration with LA producer Gaslamp Killer, MU.ZZ.LE is entirely Gonjasufi's own, and it shows in its unrelenting concentration.
Gonjasufi's 2010 release A Sufi and a Killer succeeded largely on the strength of an engagingly odd presence: the simultaneously croaky and sweet voice of Sumach Valentine, which sent initiates scrambling to identify fellow travelers, from Captain Beefheart to George Clinton to John Fahey. It stood up as a strong example of psychedelic rock rewired for an audience more attuned to Madvillainy than The Madcap Laughs. But it still scanned a bit more like a shared vision than an individual voice: The album was just as much a revelation for the Gaslamp Killer, who helmed the bulk of the production and laid down his own mark with a sprawling slate of beats that complemented Valentine's vocalizations.
At its best, Gonjasufi’s first full-length album A Sufi and a Killer was a study in contrasts. Gonjasufi’s gruff, blatantly non-commercial voice grinded against sweet J Dilla-esque soul samples. You got the idea that Sumach Valentine was almost daring listeners to tune out. It was simultaneously compelling, oddly pleasing and just a little bit scary.
Does a muzzled muzzle make a sound? This is something like a Zen koan, but I have follow up questions — though, perhaps Zen does too. Sorry, ideas-of-clarity-as-clarity, or silence-as-sanctity. What does an emanation from said muzzle sound like? What’s being muzzled? Two dots are evenly distributed among the six letters of Gonjasufi’s album title, MU.ZZ.LE, like a divvied colon splayed and on its side, yet counterbalanced and properly distributed in accordance with its own logic.
Review Summary: Yoga instructor continues to serenade the end of the world; bad juju ensuesAs a man who makes a living as a yoga instructor and lives out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, it’s understandable to assume that Gonjasufi’s output is the work of a man who views life through a far different lens than the rest of us. Naturally, his music reflects his perspective; it’s fragmented, jagged, and elusively indefinable even at the best of times. Squelchy lo-fi hip hop beats, joined at the hip to inverted soul and rampant psychedelia - it's fear and loathing in the Mojave.
After releasing the excellent A Sufi and a Killer, and allowing artists to remix that material for The Caliph's Tea Party, Sumach Ecks returned as Gonjasufi in early 2012 with what looked to be another full LP comprising ten tracks. In fact, with each song averaging around two minutes long, it's regarded as a "mini-album" and plays the part of a stop-gap very well. MU.ZZ.LE sounds like outtakes from the last LP -- that is, short underwater dub/downtempo emotronica cast-offs -- except it is darker.
GonjasufiMU.ZZ.LE[Warp; 2012]By Nicholas Preciado; January 26, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetWith an amazing string of releases (A Sufi And A Killer, The Caliph’s Tea Party and the hip-hop inspired EP The Ninth Inning), I expected Gonjasufi’s next release to be just as mind-blowing as his previous ones. Sumach Ecks, the man behind the moniker, has become well known for his experimental recordings and recently holed up in the Mojave Desert to focus on his latest release. I don’t know whether to call MU.ZZ.LE a short album or simply an EP (the term they've officially opted for is "mini-LP").
Sumach Ecks, the San Diego-born, Vegas-dwelling yoga teacher better known as hip-hop shaman Gonjasufi, released his debut album, A Sufi And A Killer, with a warning. “I don’t want it to be too easy for the listener,” he said in 2010. “I want it to hurt a little bit.
A tighter and more cohesive album than its maker’s debut – and perhaps more impressive. Ben Hewitt 2012 Yoga’s pegged as the perfect hobby for bringing about inner tranquillity, but Sumach Ecks – aka Gonjasufi – isn’t much of a poster boy for spiritual serenity. Despite moonlighting as an instructor of the ancient Indian discipline, he’s appeared a restless spirit ever since first flickering into the public consciousness in 2008 with a turn on Flying Lotus’ Lost Angeles album; his own marvellous debut long-player A Sufi and a Killer, released two years later, showed just how widely his unfettered imagination could spread as he flitted from one sprawling soundscape to another with envious ease.
When Anthony the Great went in search of spiritual clarity in the barrenness of the Nitrian Desert, he inspired so many others to follow him that the sands became “like a city.” Sumach Ecks found himself on a similar journey: moving to Nevada, winding up in an altogether different city in the desert, Las Vegas. The deeply religious yoga teacher found himself living in the City of Sin. This quest for an ascetic spiritualism, the reality of Las Vegas, encapsulates the turmoil within Gonjasufi, and the sound of MU.ZZ.LE - an enticing, intoxicating, at times uncomfortable record.