A modern masterpiece from the 2000BLACK camp.
Coming off of a tumultuous year for musicians, especially those in the African diaspora, The Negative Positive appears to be Dego's answer to hard times. As such, no time is wasted. These pieces are intense and to the point, with only a single track coming in at over four minutes. "The Negative Positive grows stronger under detrimental circumstances," says the press release that comes with the record, hammering home the point that this is an album for times of adversity. There's a general air of sweet melancholy throughout the record. Each track seems to recognize the despair of the moment, but still provides a feeling of resistance through hope. Dego provides a majority of the production and instrumentation, but he also brings in frequent collaborators for moments of elevation.
"Stained With The Tears On Their Faces" is a standard Dego track, which still rates heads and shoulders above what most imitators try to achieve. Double time percussion and breakbeats take center stage, while layers of melody breathe a freshness into the syncopation. Mr Mensah plays Yamaha CS-50 on "Is It The Whole Truth," an excellent slice of future jazz with playful keys and a squelching bassline.
The Negative Positive's three vocal tracks are clear highlights. On "This Is A Message To You", Nadine Charles' sweet vocals pair perfectly with an excellent bass performance from Kaidi Tatham and classic Rhodes playing from Dego. "What's Good For You" features Obenewa delivering a beautiful serenade over funky synth and deep organ funk. These two are undoubtedly modern boogie masterpieces. On "Recovered Memories," Samii returns to the 2000BLACK fold for a more laid-back yet uplifting neo-soul ballad, arguably the best the track of the album.
The title track is the most straightforward four-to-the-floor moment, a simmering disco house number that nods to trad jazz. The Carribean overtones of "She Is Virgo," meanwhile, are a pleasant surprise. Kaidi comes back for a stunning flute performance. "What's An Inferiority Complex" brings together complex drum programming and layers of synthesizers to create a funky wall of sound. This track also acts as a showcase for Dego's keyboard wizardry.
There are no surprises on The Negative Positive, no attempts to capitalize on current trends. This is an album that clearly comes from the heart of a musician who has dedicated their life to crafting emotionally compelling music. Only through time and admiration for the totality of where this music comes from can you begin to understand where it needs to go. Dego will go down as one of the masters of music from the African diaspora, fulfilling the circle by bringing soul back to electronic music.