Here's a project that's easy to get behind. Not only is Ten Million Sounds' second compilation Finding Time a choice collection of breezy instrumental hip-hop, the album has been made available as a name-your-price download with all of the profits going to Smile Train, an organization that raises funds for cleft palate correction surgery for children in developing countries. In that same spirit, all of the contributing artists generously donated their tracks in support of the cause. The style of the music is as appealing as the project itself. Like a soothing and peaceful soundtrack to the early morning hours, the tracks are a heavily atmospheric bunch filled with warmth and rich blends of acoustic and synthetic materials.
Aether (San Antonio, Texas-based Diego Chavez) opens the compilation with “Solace,” one of the warmest and most seductive instrumentals I've heard recently. Imagine ethereal vocals and pianos floating serenely over a gorgeous series of chord changes and you'll have some idea of the tune's blissful sound. As serene are Handbook's “With You This Far,” Evil Needle's “Soft Touch,” Bahwee's “Every Time,” and Ta-ku's “Fairy Tale.” Appearing under the Somepling alias, French beatmaker Oliver Rousseaux's energized shuffler “ThirdCriminal” opts for a robust jazz-inflected style, while Rob Viktum presents a jaunty, guitar-laced jam in the form of “4/17/1975.” Those who like their beats punchy and crisp should head directly to Poldoore's “Waiting For The World” and IV The Polymath's “The Recipe” to sample their funky bass pulses and slinky grooves. Also contributing snappy cuts are Ohbliv, Incise, Jimmy Whoo, and Brock Berrigan.
There's a bit of a crate-digging post-Dilla feel to some of the tracks, and there's no shortage of vinyl crackle on hand for those who love that dusty feel. An occasional sound of nature (birds, insects, etc.) also seeps into the material, a move that bolsters the project's natural, outdoorsy vibe. With the beats flowing at such a relaxed tempo, one comes away from the set's soulful boom-bap refreshed.