On the first track of Supreme Cuts’ sophomore LP, a lisp-laden voice begins a monologue over echoing keyboards. “My body actually converts feelings into physical pain,” the voice says, foreshadowing what you’re about to spend 53 minutes listening to. Then, a thunder-like wind checks in, gusting and billowing through an eardrum-irritating progression of keys before crashing into a mess of raw, mangled saxophones. And that’s only the introduction.
Divine Ecstasy takes a pretty big turn from Supreme Cuts’ debut album, Whispers In The Dark, which relied heavily on cerebral percussion and lacked any vocals whatsoever. Mike Perry and Austin Kjeultes are ringleader producers on this album, creating rhythmic background chop-ups for a veritable schoolyard cool kid group of vocalists. Cocktails features a misty guest spot from Portland bathtub crooner Shy Girls; Haleek Maul and Bago jump in on Isis for a slow-burning cosmic high; teenage vocalist Mahaut Mondino gets the chance to show off her just-rough-enough vox against nicely contrasting lounge keys and industrial thwacks in Gone. Album single Down features the GTW, Khallee and David Ashley tagging verses in discofied bike horns and a sample of John Legend’s Green Light.
You know how they tell you to remove one accessory before leaving the house? The lowest points on the album come when Perry and Kjeultes forget to do that. On Envision, Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh could be anyone: her vocals are muddled and muffled, her slick-throated strength becomes just another clipped noise in a perpetually unsatisfying beat experiment. It’s Like That has Yen Tech getting his tongue stuck on Auto-Tune and fighting for space with a tsunami of sampled howls, synths that come and go too rapidly, jittery percussion and an eyebrow-raising saxophone.
While Divine Ecstasy may not satisfy all your experimentally complex tastebuds, it will satisfy some of them, mostly because it does so much. Over the course of an hour, the disc mixes mellow R&B with antsy synth blips, muted rap with against-the-wall percussion, disco lowlights with hip-hop highlights and still manages to fit in one wordless dance cut à la Whispers In The Dark. It may not be ecstasy, but it’s a nice pit stop on the way there.