RJD2 is known for his grooving, usually wordless musical explorations; Aaron Livingston is known for his work with Philly-based band The Mean. When you put them together, you get… some fairly standard remix material. The Abandoned Lullaby mashes up electronic and crunk with some interesting results, but while the pairing is initially fresh, after a while the music begins to sound like what plenty of other DJs do live.
To be fair, the collaboration is certainly interesting, and fans of the Mean’s country-flavored rock will appreciate this disc, which features Livingston’s vocals heavily and gives them a cleaner showcase than the Mean’s crunchy guitars. But RJD2 fans will gradually begin to miss the mixster’s floaty, unencumbered electro-jams. Icebird feels like more of an experimental phase than a new long-term pairing, but there are still moments to love.
The duo comes together best on “Going And Going. And Going”, where Livingston takes his rhythmic cues from RJ’s typical style for a smooth club feel. Opener “Charmed Life” sounds more like regular RJD2, as if he’s perhaps remixing the Mean rather than working with Livingston directly. Meanwhile, Livingston’s deep, funky voice comes through best on sassy “King Tut” and “Please, Don’t”, the latter framed by the playful, slightly ominous exhortation, “Please don’t feed the animals”.
Overall, The Abandoned Lullaby is a texturally interesting marriage of genres, but hardly a unique one. As solid as the music sounds, it’s just not special enough to crave, making this collaboration rather forgettable.
Essential Tracks: “Going And Going. And Going”, “Please, Don’t”