D’An­gelo drops out of nowhere

After a 14-year wait, the soul legend suprises ev­ery­one with a sud­den re­lease of ‘Black Mes­siah’ It’s bean done

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY - LAU­RENCE MACKIN EMILY LONG­WORTH

As leave of ab­sences go, they don’t get much more ef­fec­tive than this: after 14 years of near si­lence, D’An­gelo dropped an en­tire al­bum this week that has been the best part of a decade in the mak­ing. And what an al­bum: this is the kind of record worth buy­ing new head­phones for.

The first track, Su­gah Daddy, peeked its head out the door first, and An­nie Mac was out of the blocks early, play­ing it on her show on Sun­day. But at that point there was no in­di­ca­tion that the full 12 tracks were ready to go. In Rolling Stone, Quest­love, who played on Black Mes­siah, hinted at the style the record was tak­ing – a di­rec­tion all of its own.

“It’s a pas­sion project, and it’s ev­ery­thing,” he told a lis­ten­ing party in New York, where the record was un­veiled a few hours later. “I don’t re­ally want to give a hy­per­bolic or grandiose state­ment, but it’s ev­ery­thing. It’s beau­ti­ful, it’s ugly, it’s truth, it’s lies. It’s ev­ery­thing.”

He’s not wrong. The re­sult is time­less and ex­hil­a­rat­ing. There’s a heavy dose of the funk of Prince, strange jazz mus­ings bub­bling along in the back­ground (the band are called The Van­guard, a lit­tle hat tip to that New York jazz in­sti­tu­tion?), and the kind of deep, soul­ful mix that Marvin Gaye would find him­self com­fort­ably at home in.

As if the mu­sic wasn’t enough, D’An­gelo is also walk­ing a by-now fa­mil­iar path of drop­ping a record with­out a hint of warn­ing. David Bowie bolted from the blue in March 2013 with The Next Day; Bey­oncé had her whole fifth al­bum ready to rock 12 months ago, with videos at­tached. D’An­gelo, though, has bid­ded his sweet time. He has yet to do an in­ter­view around the al­bum’s re­lease, but it seems that re­cent events in Fer­gu­son forced his hand, and he felt now was the time to say some­thing.

The big­gest sur­prise, though, is that Black Mes­siah is worth wait­ing for. The minute word got around, pretty much ev­ery mu­sic writer lifted the phone to their ed­i­tor and asked if they could get their “best of 2014” list back, with just one small change to make.

Don’t ex­pect to see it top of any­one’s lists, as most of those are al­ready well in the bag (and you can turn the page to see our read­ers’ choices for 2014). But for the few days left in De­cem­ber, Black Mes­siah is the only al­bum any­one is talk­ing about. Ar­cade Fire front­man Win But­ler (above) is brew­ing up a sig­na­ture cof­fee blend. To the dis­may of thou­sands, it won’t be called Wake Up. On the up­shot, sales pro­ceeds will be do­nated to char­ity and beans are sourced from Haiti, a spir­i­tual home­land to But­ler and his fiery mates.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion with La Colombe Cof­fee is named RaRa – after the na­tive Haitian mu­sic scene whose car­ni­val sound­ings heav­ily in­flu­enced Ar­cade Fire’s Re­flek­tor. Aside from the missed op­por­tu­nity of a hi­lar­i­ous name (another bet­ter al­ter­na­tive be­ing Ready To Start) the idea is of­fi­cially “cool” with “da kids”. Be­cause ev­ery­one who’s any­one pro­duced a sig­na­ture cup of Joe in 2014.

In Fe­bru­ary, James Murphy of LCD Soundsys­tem re­leased his blend House of Good. It’s $26 per pound, and the taste has some­how been likened to the sound of his mu­sic. We couldn’t af­ford a bag, but pre­sum­ably there’s a bang of syn­the­sis­ers off of it.

In May, won­der-lady St Vincent an­nounced her sig­na­ture brew, named Bring Me Your Mugs (after her al­bum track Bring Me Your Loves). It does not taste like the song.

Of course, Kiss came up with the idea of self-branded cof­fee years ago, be­cause there isn’t any junk or garb on the mar­ket that hasn’t been tar­nished with the Kiss name (the 1970s were a good time for the glam-metal house­hold).

Cin­e­matic cof­fee comes via David Lynch. His line of or­ganic roasts may cause back­wards-speak­ing dream se­quences, but oth­er­wise makes for a damn fine cup of joe.

Ex­pect more in 2015, if it hasn’t al­ready bean done.

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