In the liner notes to Onze Pedras, Brooklyn producer and DJ Brad Loving aka Lobisomem (Portuguese for werewolf, we're told) provides autobiographical context that helps illuminate the eleven tracks making up his debut album. When spring 2009 found him living in Chicago “working a steady job and sort of cruising on autopilot,” he decided to quit said job and take a month-long trip to Mali, an experience that affected him profoundly and influenced to a major degree the material that would come to be Onze Pedras, his full-length follow-up to the recent Brightest Solids EP. Returning to the US, he moved to Brooklyn, spent five months refining the music, made further trips to Japan and Texas, and finally hit Chicago's Soma studios in December of 2009 to pull everything together in the company of Tortoise's John McEntire. If, therefore, the album exudes a globe-trotting vibe, no one should be too surprised, given the recording's circuitous production history (for the record, he's also spent time in Brazil and France, locations that likewise influenced the album's tracks). Call it Fourth World electronica if you like, or don't call it anything if you'd rather just listen and let Lobisomem's tripped-out music wash over you.
Augmented by a smattering of guest musicians (guitarist David Daniell, drummer Nori Tanaka, and guitarist Matt Leer, to name three) Loving contributes harmonium, synthesizer, melodica, piano, electronics, and laptop to the recording. The African influence surfaces prominently in the percussion patterns that animate “Oxbow,” even if that dimension quickly vanishes, leaving an electronic drone in its wake. That influence is felt again during “Consonants and Vowels” when chanted vocals and hand percussion appear. On the hip-hop tip, we have the boom-bap of “She's Made of Clay,” the Casio-tinged electronic jam “Concussus” (spiked by a mellow trumpet solo by Jaimie Branch), and “Under the Aegis,” which merges hip-hop and African music with a grooving slab of bass-heavy funk. There are also hints of krautrock (“Another Song about Euryale”) and a pulsating electro-fireball distinguished by Bob Jones' string presence (“Incumbent Upon Us”). In contrast to the quick-change character of the other pieces, Loving lets the electro-acoustic dirge “Saidera Harmony” unfold patiently.
Like the musics of Tortoise and Four Tet, Loving's music sidesteps easy pigeonholing (the heavily rhythm-oriented electro-shuffler “Zinc” could even pass for a Tortoise outtake). Tracks chameleonically change colours several times, with krautrock and spacey loping grooves giving way to African or post-rock episodes and becoming genre-defying hybrids in the process. All such details make Loving's Lobisomem project seem connected in spirit, even if tangentially, to an act like The Art Ensemble of Chicago, which has been challenging genre conventions for decades with its own world music.