French-Chilean artist Orlando Diaz Corvalan is a man of many talents. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, producer and label executive, and since 2009, he’s released a slew of music on different formats and under different aliases: Medline, Aillacara 2743, and Electroom Acoostap. Though each record has one foot in hip-hop, Medline’s work is both 100 percent sample-free and mostly instrumental. His latest LP, Old Souls Carnival, is an expansive, slow-burn record that locates the sweet spot between ‘70s exploitation film soundtracks and French arthouse sex film music.
On Old Souls, Corvalan crafts a dense sound rooted equally in jazz fusion and psychedelic funk. The result is an album that’s remarkably soothing, with a few restless and trippy passages thrown in for good measure. Corvalan plays every instrument on Old Souls, from flute to vibraphone, filling out the gorgeous record like a child scribbling in a coloring book. The album’s only guest is rapper Stainless Steele, who contributes vocals on “Wild Sour,” the only track that scans as pure hip-hop. With its live drum fills and record scratches, the song recalls the ’90s era of jazz-rap fusion, the kind made popular by groups like Digable Planets, Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. On “Power to the People,” Corvalan sings directly into the flute, giving his voice a strangely modulated effect that contrasts the song’s layered percussion.
The Medline moniker has always brought out Corvalan’s fondness for experimenting. His first tape, Sun Son Sound, was an exercise in creating music with live instruments. On People Make The World Go Round, Corvalan covered the classic jazz-funk tracks that were the foundation for popular hip-hop samples, dissecting and reassembling little snippets of pop culture into breezy jams. On Old Souls Carnival, he’s developed his own language, paying direct homage to his sonic influences without borrowing too much from them. Instead, he’s taken bits and pieces from the past, tweaked them, and created something all his own. As its title implies, Old Souls Carnival registers as something mystical and far away, without sacrificing the comforts of home.