The thousand and one ideas and motifs crammed into its flowing 27 tracks makes it tempting to “The Quiet Crusade” a head-rush, but that’s underselling it — undocument an electronic & hip-hop music producer from Long Beach, California, doesn’t leave much room for wallowing; the emptier spaces in this set largely fill with glowing ethereality and exploration of that unknown place somewhere in your soul.
To accomplish that transcendence, undocument implements the tricks of handfuls of different musical languages. Sometimes it’s the ecstatic energy of soul-bop samples like on “Luscious”, other times the sway of astral ambient as on “Morningland”, and even others the throbbing hooks of urban jungle a la “Psalm Readers”. Sections of the album verge on the mystical while others pulse with the visceral.
On “She Breathes”, Amena Melody makes an appearance to lend some scene-shifting vocals that open new melodic doors. Something Nehneen Kula repeats so beautifully on “Oratorio Of Momentary Desires”.
Infusing living strings by way of Eric Brenton ( Violin) and Nathan Brenton ( Cello) into multiple tracks reliably emphasizes the organic elements that presides in undocument’s brew, and the EARLY-featuring “Looking Back” is the strongest stand-alone hip hop track of the album.
The stop-start energy and quick shifts can be intoxicating on some tracks, while the airier passages on tracks like “Sleep Very Well” and “White Chapel”, occasionally provide plenty of breathing room. undocument is able to stretch moments into millennia and jams generations of feelings into a single movement on tracks like “The Quiet Crusade” and “Hillcrest”.
The album works best as a single, unified listen, the instrumental stretches inspiring just as many shivers as the Kula and Melody features do. The reason why undocument is able to produce music like he does on this album is because he is not afraid to do things differently.
The size of the record may leave you dazed at the best of times, but, coupled with the labyrinthine time signatures and convergence of styles, the record verges on information overload at times. Which isn’t a value judgment; it’s just a different approach.
undocument could have made an album filled with bangers if he so desired, but that isn’t really his style; he prefers to challenge both himself and listeners to take in different experiences, to shake off the crutches of conventionality and embrace something new.
undocument’s intentions wouldn’t mean a thing if the music itself didn’t resonate. And it does. He proves to be a magnificent producer who, conjures up sounds that can instantly galvanize you, light you up and free your mind.
Through repeated listens, “The Quiet Crusade” blossoms; cogent ideas and layers become more apparent as you become more familiar with the album’s sprawling structure. Certain melodies, textures and even whole tracks, will settle down and nest in your mind.
It’s just an interesting sound once you get to grips with it, unique and really quite hypnotic. The album totally obliterates any preconceptions about the kind of musical quality can be released by a relatively unknown contemporary producer.