inc. isn’t only minimalist by name. The L.A. duo comprised of producers and brothers Daniel and Andrew Aged specialize in spacey, shimmery hip-hop beats meshed with half-whispered vocals, and their first full-length, no world, compiles 11 tracks in that very vein. None, however, are particularly distinctive from the rest, and while that’s not always a bad thing, it can get frustrating fast when an artist’s single weapon is a certain narrow, half-awake affect. Two releases in, inc. seems to have no intention or interest in branching outward from there at all.
no world opens with “The Place”, a surreal dream of a track (“I feel like we’ve been here before”, the chorus appropriately repeats) with an excessively reverberated beat and inches-from-ear vocals that almost set the exact pace and schtick for the entire album. Any shifts from that are subtle and scarce; it’s not until the closing number, the soporific soundscape “Nariah’s Song” and its dense grand piano chords layered over surging ambient noise, that they finally throw in a palette cleanser. There are no true standout tracks here, no sharp left turns, no energizing moments – just 42 minutes of inc.’s syrupy, sci-fi-esque take on smooth R&B.
Sound familiar? If you’re conscious of a certain R&B revival currently garnering focus in pop music, or any of the artists credited with ushering it in – whose names will be spared so as to avoid at least one more unnecessary mass lumping – it likely does. And while that’s quickly becoming an exhausted, even dubious talking point in pop music, there’s just no denying that inc. is willfully falling right in line with it – albeit towards the back of that line. It’s an auspicious wake to swim in, sure, but if they have any intention of making their own mark, it wouldn’t hurt the Ageds to find their own fresher waters to tread.
Essential Tracks: “5 Days”