I think the best thing about berhana’s self titled release is that it feels whole. There is a connectedness, calculated and intentional in it’s structure. So often we’re given a grouping of singles, especially in the world of EPs, where the artist’s goal is less to make something lasting, but rather something to get them noticed. It’s a strategy you can’t fault, it’s a means to an end. Then, every once in awhile, someone does both and you’re given an EP with a clear vision, and it hits you that they can be more than a stepping stone.
There’s a handful of genres at play in berhana. Contemporary feel with old school sensibilities. Producer Sapphire has created a beyond smooth atmosphere, and though it sits firmly in R&B, influences range anywhere from hip hop to psychedelic to jazz, leaving a ton of directions to explore in the future. The release plays light, something to throw on and vibe to; slick vocals gliding over minimalist beats, effectively accomplishing more by giving us less. But dig underneath and the themes aren’t as glossy as the dreamy grooves. Like complex flavors cooked into comfort food.
There are subtleties all over the EP that I dig; the layered vocal at the end of the second verse of “Brooklyn Drugs,” or the way he samples his “Grey Luh” chorus on “Wade Green” but ends it with ‘but not today,’ rather than the ‘maybe someday.’ While the decision to do these things may carry no weight and could have come on a whim, it’s intricacies like that that show the detail put into the sound. Would I notice if it wasn’t there? No. Did it make a difference that it was? Definitely.
This is right up there with my favorite EPs this year, maybe even up top with Miloux's EP1. Every song is good, complete with the transitional piece "Relapse" (speaking of transitional, remember "Cybertronic Purgatory" on Janelle Monae's Metropolis EP, all praise to the thee). Just listen to the whole thing, who can turn down making your day better in under 20 minutes?