On their debut full-length album, Under, Detroit-based producer Dyani explores the concepts of personal healing, rebirth, and hopeful imaginings through the imagery of water, an age-old metaphor for spiritual cleansing. More specifically, the album imagines a kind of baptism, grasping the threads of primordial spirituality and renewal that run through experimental jazz, techno, and Caribbean genres like soca and kompas.
Throughout Under, Dyani realizes the album’s diluvial concept through carefully-produced, soundscapes that, in one moment, invite the body to sway with echoing synths, whistles, claves and, in the next, pummel with waves of thumping hi-hats and bass. On “Ascension,” sizzling percussion forms the backbone for echoing, ethereal vocals that recede and resurface in a haunting, siren-like chorus. The album’s dance roots are never far, bursting through on pulsating tracks like “Mandatory” and “MOTH.” There’s a boldness that drives each song forward and makes the appearances of instruments like a commanding but fluid bass clarinet, as on album opener “Submerge,” and staccato flute melody, as on “Agwe,” especially captivating ones.
Dyani conceived Under before the chaos of 2020 fully sunk in, but it arrives at a time of international climate reckoning. Still buckling under an unprecedented pandemic, parts of the world are engulfed in fire and toxic smoke while others are being battered by hurricane wind, rain, and water. Under is a welcome expression of determined refiguring and renaissance at a time when many of us desperately need one.