NEW BLUE SUN
For the first time in nearly two decades, André 3000 – the revolutionary rapper, songwriter, and half of Outkast – has emerged with new music. Announced only days before its release, New Blue Sun, curiously, is not a rap album. Instead, his debut solo album is an abstract jazz experiment that prioritizes creativity and artistic vision starring André 3000 on a variety of different flutes.
This is not the record people hoped for when longing for André 3000’s return to making his own music; however, he declares his intentions with the opening song, “I Swear, I Really Wanted To Make A ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time”. The ambient, instrumental track clocks in at over 12 minutes, spending much time building upon a cumulative ostinato. The reoccurring patter, led by synths, accenting percussion, and, eventually, flute, is an exercise in anticipation, but rather than cause tension as it builds, the anticipation is accompanied by a sense of peace. The same could be said about the following track, “The Slang Word P(*)ssy Rolls Off The Tongue With Far Better Ease Than The Proper Word Vagina. Do You Agree?”, a soundscape which can be likened that that of crashing waves along the ocean shore while, musically, feeling loosely connected to classical music in its arrangement.
Front to back, New Blue Son is a thrilling collection of instrumental tracks. From the Afrobeat influence of “That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control… Sh¥t Was Wild” to the brisk patterns of “Ghandi, Dalai Lama, Your Lord & Savior J.C. / Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy”, André 3000 has delivered a stunning collection of soundscapes for improvised rhythms, melodies, and harmonic passages to unfold. Furthermore, dynamics and space are used effectively as tranquility can slowly build until it blossoms into an overwhelming cacophony of textures. With inspiration drawing from the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, along with the acid jazz experimentation of Flea’s Helen Burns, New Blue Sun is a record unlike anything else.
By no means in this a record for mass commercial appeal and consumption. This is not the purpose of New Blue Sun, nor does it appear to have ever been something André 3000 was concerned with. Instead, New Blue Sun is an album of musical experimentation, exploring the limitless bounds of the abstract while expanding one’s own creative boundaries. While it will not be celebrated the same as if he had released a rap album, in this context, André 3000’s return is one of triumph. Despite its peaceful tone, there is a level of danger and risk behind the spontaneity and experimental nature that comes from the absence of conventional genres and structures on New Blue Sun that allows for the brilliance and unmatched creativity of André 3000 to shine.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: ANDRÉ 3000 – NEW BLUE SUN