Sango makes beats. At least, that's how he sees it. The rest of us know the truth: the 26-year-old Seattle DJ/producer conducts symphonies. And not just in the way he conjures a singularly fluid sound out of all manner of ancient rhythms, worldly strains, and progressive notions – from heady jazz to heartfelt gospel, jittery club music to combustible baile funk, uncanny future-bass to mellow trap-soul. It's more in the way he sends memories and emotions flitting through that shifting soundscape so that even when the songs are wordless, we feel his intent. Sango's long-awaited second album, In the Comfort Of, aims to connect with the listener in a new way. It's the start of a journey enriched by our host's history (both musical and personal), guided along by an array of boundary-pushing guests (Smino, James Vincent McMorrow, Dave B, Jesse Boykins III), and ultimately leading back to us: Where/how do we seek/give comfort? Oh, and it bumps too.
In the Comfort Of is full of voices from Sango's story: a woman from the old neighborhood utters an Eritrean prayer. AGO members Joose (stolen from his big bro's group) and Waldo flow in and out of "Speak." A pastor friend shares a word. A Brazilian pal hypes Sango in Portuguese. His mother in law converses in Spanish. The comfort theme comes into focus as Sango and friends explore our relationships to ourselves, to each other, and to a higher power. Romaro Franceswa and Dave B consider the power of community over the calming keys of "Mateo 2:19." On the flip side, Midnight coos about the danger of judgment on "Light-Skinned." Boykins fights for a failing romance on the skittering "Twogether," while JMSN praises one that's working via the dark R&B of "Chemistry." A wounded McMorrow turns inward swathed in guitar ("Changing Channels") but Smino gleefully swerves through the jumpy "Khlorine" to attack complacency. With "Sweet Holy Honey," Omär pledges to save himself for marriage. A song later, Jon Bap revels in the reward.
There's levels to each Sango release – the result is always far greater than the sum of its million parts – and In the Comfort Of is no exception. Yes, the man has the deft touch of a designer. His tastefulness is on display not just in the visual art he creates to accompany his music, but in the flashes of color and jagged lines that streak his songs.