The isolation of the last 15 months must have been hard on Carlos Niño. For years, the L.A. percussionist, DJ, and arranger has gathered together a rotating cast of pals to create a series of records under the name Carlos Niño & Friends. The loose, improvisatory structures of their playing, and Niño’s ingenious ability to stitch the best ideas together into blankets of comforting sounds, give these albums a charisma that smooths over the often difficult nature of the music, which borrows in equal measure from free jazz, new age, and hip-hop.
In the same way that you’re able to follow your closest buds to conversational places you wouldn’t dream of approaching with your coworkers, the warmth that permeates Niño’s music disguises just how challenging some of it can be.
More Energy Fields, Current feels colored by recent circumstances. It is more muted and less jumpy than a typical Carlos Niño & Friends record. And while it abides by his typically kinetic production ethos, the spaces through which it wanders are emptier and less populous than ever before. It’s fascinating to hear Niño working in such a blue mode—this is a guy who made a record called Bliss On Dear Oneness, after all. While the music here can sometimes sound unsure of itself, More Energy Fields, Current shows a new side of Niño, and it proves that his abilities as a producer can move beyond the wide-eyed good vibes that have always shined within his work. Pieced together in a time of great distance, More Energy Fields, Current is the sound of Carlos Niño finding—or maybe creating—solace.