Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Roots' final four Undun tracks suggest that ?uestlove has a future as a film composer

?uestlove, photographed by Sears
The Roots' excellent 13th album Undun, which dropped yesterday, is the band's first concept album. The somber Undun is a cautionary--and fortunately, not-so-preachy-and-Afterschool Special-ish--tale that centers on a teen named Redford Stephens (his name is lifted from the Sufjan Stevens song "Redford") who falls into the drug game.

?uestlove has conquered the worlds of drumming, arranging, late-night bandleading and tweeting. Could film scoring be next for ?uesto to tackle? On the cinematic instrumentals that comprise the four-part "Redford Suite" that concludes Undun, ?uesto, who has said he might go completely orchestral on the next Roots album, displays some serious Bernard Herrmann-esque chops.

I second the following graf, despite a couple of annoyingly lofty-sounding and obtuse phrases that are so NPR ("fictionalized into hip-hop"?--what the hell does that mean?):
?uestlove treats "Redford" almost like a piece of movie music, accompanying the action rather than recapitulating it. The result is a cinematic moment waiting to be processed, fictionalized into hip-hop. It's as if the listener zoomed in beyond the safe narrative distance of the song and actually ended up in the movie. This movement of the suite is like a rap track under a microscope, the sample blown up so large that the beats that keep hip-hop as the frame of reference are a horizon enshrouded in fog… Finally, credits roll over a sublime string quartet, mercifully for Black Thought's black thoughts — at least for a moment, before ?uestlove's meticulously arranged strings are silenced by the chilling, deathly growl of a struck piano.

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