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Artist 40 Winks
Album More Than Loops
Label Swamp
Year 2005

40 Winks are a down-low production duo coming straight outta Belgium who specialize in blunted instrumental hip-hop. Evidently, the original version of this album came out in 2003. This new version features extra tracks and has only been released in Japan. Word has it that a vinyl 12" is coming out soon, but I've heard no news on a CD release. I wouldn't be suprised if it drops here sometime soon. The title "More Than Loops" refers to the fact that these tracks are arranged songs and not just loops for an MC to rhyme over. From a production perspective, it sounds like there actually is very little more than loops going on here. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, though, as the loops in question are of the fresh, jazzy variety.
While laid back, jazzy instrumental hip-hop grooves are certainly nothing new, they never fail to please when done properly. One thing I like about this album is that early on in it the battery of film dialogue snippets tie the tracks together to the point where it's hard to discern where one ends and the other begins. It creates the feeling of falling in and out of sleep in a car and not knowing exactly where you are when you wake up. As time goes on, the dreamy quality remains, although the songs tend to stand apart more thanks to clever and catchy loops. The songs also rarely break the three-minute mark, which keeps things moving nicely and maintains the phantasmagorical, half-asleep vibe. Some of my favorite tracks are "City Dweller," a crisp, rhodes-heavy head-nodder that gets fleshed out by sick vibes and horn/flute samples, "Deep Relaxation Break," an impossibly deep jazz beat that segues into a tense, soundtracky head-nodder, and "Destination, My Imagination," which floats on a bed of delicate, minor-keyed piano, classical guitar, and harp loops. Other highlights include the Al Green-esque "The Way You Love Me," the deep and introspective "Escapism," and the languid and jazz loop-laden "Vibed Out Feeling," a track that's very reminiscent of Underground Vibes-era DJ Cam (which is a good thing).
Since it'll probably be hard to catch this album in the states, check out 40winksmusic.com to get more information. All there really is to say about 40 Winks is: don't sleep.

- DJ Verb

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