Rising Toronto duo Are World emerge onto the city’s experimental hip-hop scene with debut mixtape Disaster. The local upstarts are fast becoming known for their dusty soul samples and psychedelic beats. Made up of singer/songwriter and sporadic busker Victor “Clay” Barnett and multi-instrumentalist Alex Ernwein – who can be heard on Daniel Caesar’s February single Won’t Live Here – the pair stir together hip-hop, free jazz and acoustic splendour on their first joint effort.
Spanning six tracks, some almost 10 minutes long, the album touches on hot-button topics like Canada’s social and political climate, especially on intro track Big Wallah. It’s a window into the minds of the former college roommates, who describe themselves as “average white kids” and get musical assistance from producer David Diao.
The eclectic mixtape isn’t for everyone. Disaster is a free-flowing space for sound and rumination, and can be abstract at times, true to its jazzy origins. The most direct track is MOVE 3, where guest vocalist Tyler Edwards trades in fragmented urgency for a soft, romantic chorus. But the moment is fleeting, and crashing percussion soon returns to the forefront.
Contrast plays a crucial role in Disaster’s sound. Take concluding song MOVE 1: lulling guitar strumming precede weighty lyrics like “I was only about half a foot tall when my mom said, ‘Pick up the world, it’s a ball,'” speaking to the societal pressures thrust on many of us from birth. From displaced early-life references at its end to its expansive use of genre and philosophy, this mixtape explores just how wonderfully disastrous our planet can be.
Top track: MOVE 3