araabMuzik – né Abraham Orellana – has made a name for himself in recent years, producing sinister beats for the likes of Busta Rhymes, Hell Rell, and Fabolous, and he’s played more than a small part in the surge in popularity of Cam’ron and Vado. So when Electronic Dream, which is really more a mixtape than it is an album, dropped earlier this month, fans were understandably disgruntled to find a fairly drastic stylistic departure.
Nobody’s going to be rapping over these beats anytime soon. Electronic Dream is more a perversion of a Digitally Imported-style trance mix than it is the breakout album from one of gangster rap’s brightest stars. Having said that, this is by no means a bad disc. In fact, the 35-minute LP is filled to the brim with some great stuff, and proves to be a fully-engaging work that will keep you interested throughout its duration.
Sometimes it’s tough to tell what’s part of the original song and where Araab is adding his own little flairs, but at others it’s incredibly obvious. “Streetz Tonight,” for instance, is one of the disc’s stronger tracks, but a lot of the time it sounds like it belongs in a place called Avalon or Cloud or Rise. Even when he hasn’t added too much, though, Araab completely morphs the dynamics of these songs. Transcendent buildups become nervous whispers of self-assurance, all swimming above the jagged sea of a nefarious hip-hop drum loop.
“Underground Stream” is perhaps the strongest combination of original and source material. The tune samples DJ Nosferatu’s song of the same name, but where the original is little else than a hard beat and a loud synth, Araab’s version becomes paranoid and unsettling, horror movie screams popping up here and there, once again punctuated by his relentless beats.
Electronic Dreams feels like a divisive work even as you listen to it without any outside information. I’d think a certain affinity for trance music will help you along, but there’s a lot to chew on here. It’s a quick listen at a little more than 30 minutes, and worth going through at least once if only to familiarize yourself with Araab’s sound.