inc. - no world

by Charly Richardson Rating:7 Release Date:2013-02-18

Brothers in bands. It's always hit and miss. But after listening to their intriguing debut, no world, Andrew Aged (guitar and vocals) and brother Daniel (bass and production), aka inc., get the benefit of the doubt.

Between them, the Aged brothers have created a slinky, sensual sound. Subdued, contemplative R&B rubs shoulders with hints of electronica, jazz and gospel inflections to produce a nuanced take on the exciting left-field R&B scene which has quietly popped up recently. And quiet is an appropriate term, for no world is full of down-tempo, blissed-out jams which are better suited to the bedroom than the club.

On opener 'the place', Andrew talks about déjà vu in his slightly nasal yet smooth vocal tone. He avoids any vocal acrobatics or over-stacked harmonies, instead delivering his words in a hushed, seductive purr. It's charming and engrossing, but a little more emotional nuance would help listeners stay engaged right throughout no world.

inc.'s undeniably smooth and sultry sound is created using a blend of live and electronic sounds (although this definitely has more of a live feel than most electronica/R&B albums out there). 'lifetime' could be a warped Justin Timberlake b-side. 'trust (hell below)' has a sweet, 70s soul-style groove surrounded by echoing guitars and keyboard improvisations (the group are clearly adept jazz players, evidenced in sublime outro 'nariah's song'). 'lifetime' is like a psychedelic slow-jam, while interlude 'your tears' has a chilled, Portishead-esque groove which slowly drifts in. But it's the beautiful '5 days' which takes the crown. Its super-smooth keys and guitar textures are contrasted against a figety breakbeat, underpinned by lovely, jazzy chord changes and little electronic sparkles.

'angel' just seems like a never-ending loop, and the mawkish vocals on 'desert rose (war prayer)' are regrettable, but there's really not much to dislike about no world. But maybe that's the problem. inc.have found a great formula, but their failure to push their own boundaries is disappointing. no world manages to stay the right side of easy listening, but all tracks stay at a very similar level both sonically and emotionally and it does feel a little flat by the end.

As stand-alone songs, there is some outstanding work here, but as an album there is little sense of ebb and flow or climax and release. But then in the right context and mood, that doesn't really matter, and this music is simply beautiful. Either way, inc. have adeptly delivered a mature and classy project which, although initially underwhelming, is guaranteed to grow on you at quite a rate.

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