Pittsburgh’s Jvggy Hendrix and Maryland’s Nigel Frank team up for the smoky, atmospheric Vanilla Abstract.
The tracks on Vanilla Abstract exist in a dimly lit room with the shades drawn, snatches of ambient jazz mingling with puffs of smoke while Swishers, snack wrappers, VHS tapes, and soul music cassettes carpet the floor. Musically, the tape is languid, songs uncoiling themselves unhurriedly from a soothing series of samples. “Grandma’s Cigarettes from Guyana” hits like an especially plush pillow to the face, a warm vocal loop and a 2AM dive bar piano nearly drowning out the percussion so that the track floats rather than bumps. It might sound chill, but Jvggy Hendrix and Nigel Frank talk about incarceration, familial legacies, dead-end jobs, and suicidal thoughts; the heavy topics of conversation, mixed with “ok, ok, ok” ad-libs and grainy dialogue samples, further the impression of song as late-night rap session. “Grandma’s Cigarettes from Guyana” is a subdued, meditative moment from a strong project.