Romare: Love Songs: Part Two

“Love” is a wide word, having many different meanings in many different contexts, so these song collages take inspiration from all over the spectrum of audio love.
Love Songs: Part Two
Ninja Tune

Electronic artist Romare borrows his name from the artist visual Romare Bearden, and the allusion in this moniker is symbolic. Bearden was most well-known as a collagist. His works often take others’ work and piece it together to make something of a disfigured puzzle where the pieces just don’t seem to fit. A head will be out of proportion with the body, or an arm will have a phantom bend to it. The end product is staggering in its own way, though, somehow shedding a light on the reality within this mangled mess. Romare, the electronic musician, does something parallel. He is essentially a music collagist, eschewing the modern idea of a meshed-in sample in favor of a layer that stands out as a cut from another work. His samples don’t get mixed in, they show themselves.

His new album, Love Songs: Part Two, uses this medium to play around with the theme the title suggests: love. “Love” is a wide word, having many different meanings in many different contexts, so his song collages take inspiration from all over the spectrum of audio love: soul, funk, girl groups, jazz, French, and sometimes just a killer groove, which we all know can influence our feelings in the heat of the moment.

The album begins with “Who to Love?”, which is arguably the best track on the album. The track starts with the deepest of slow grooves and a sample of a beautiful female voice repeating, “Who to love?” in a clipped yet soulful way. As another female voice pops up from the ether to say, “I wanna be a complete woman,” Romare hits the listener with something of a sonic pillow fight. Plush and warm tones swarm our senses, leaving us nothing if not dazed. The album contains many similar moments throughout.

The next track “All Night” is the first of a number that focus heavily on a funky beat. As a voice bubbles up saying, “Darling love me all night long”, the heaviest yet simplest bassline pops up hammering that line in. Then the palette just explodes. Two or three synths pop up, a new few guitars weave in, and then they all leave as fast as they came, putting the focus right back on that funky beat — where it belongs, of course.

Later, Romare tackles the topic of young love with “L.U.V.” It begins with bird chirps and a floating synth line, denoting that springtime feeling young love gives a person, and then it just slides into a groove before bringing in samples from The Mount Rushmore of young love: The Shangri-La’s. The disconnected voice says, “When I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in love L.U.V.” and perfectly expresses the almighty and unbreakable voice of young love.

Throughout the album, Romare uses multiple other approaches to the wide-ranging theme of love, but to me the biggest focus seems to be on extended grooves, especially towards the end of the album. Some of these songs just keep going and going, and that’s the best part about love right? Finding a killer groove to slip into? Yes, that’s right.

RATING 8 / 10