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Zo! - FourFront

August 9, 2019 at 8:14 AM · Comments
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Zo! - Smile feat. Devin Morrison

July 19, 2019 at 9:07 AM · Comments
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AllMusic reviews 'FourFront'

August 26, 2019 at 10:25 AM · Comments
Lorenzo Ferguson keeps to his triennial +FE Music release schedule with his fourth album for the label, issued after a documentary about the third one, other original music for film and television -- including pitch-perfect contributions to the satirical Sherman's Showcase -- and abundant collaborative work. From the title all the way down, FourFront has a composition like that of SunStorm, ManMade, and SkyBreak. Decked out with feel-good love and it-could-be-love songs tidily arranged over a sturdy post-disco/pre-new jack swing foundation, it similarly features a shifting cast of guest vocalists known and new to Zo! sessions. Among the familiar, most prominent is touring partner Carmen Rodgers on two highlights that sparkle. Also in the mix is Phonte, of course, either tightening the material in the background or duetting with one of the compatible new associates, Madison McFerrin, who elsewhere powers a delightfully featherlight if poignant bossa nova diversion. Ferguson continues to make incremental refinements and progressions, remarkably keeping it direct and replayable while adding detail and handling the bulk of the instrumentation on a level that verges on virtuosic. Whether written by the leader or the collaborators, the same can be said of the lyrics. Even the simplest romantic sentiments contain bright moments that stick out, like when Devin Morrison softly consoles that he'll "kick a silly freestyle, just to see you smile," or when Sy Smith bats her eyelashes with "I can see in your reflection that it's time to break the glass," signaling that she wants more than friendship. Strong finales have run throughout the Zo! discography, and there's another one here in "Step Up Front," a deep Afro-Latin house groove as high-spirited as anything by Masters at Work-related projects like Nuyorican Soul and Elements of Life. Moreover, it and the two preceding tracks add up to the finest three-track stretch on any Zo! LP. Ahead of the finish is "Crash," flirty machine soul fronted by Smith with discreet nods to Sly & the Family Stone, Shalamar, and Teena Marie. The succeeding penultimate number is the zigzagging slow jam "Sweat," which with Stokley's feverish hospitality can be heard as an answer song of acceptance.
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Phonte - Pacific Time EP

March 29, 2019 at 12:04 AM · Comments

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Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Saturn (Warehouse live session)

November 1, 2018 at 7:30 AM · Comments
Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Saturn (Warehouse live session)

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Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Pioneer 11 (Warehouse live session)

August 11, 2018 at 8:05 AM · Comments
Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Pioneer 11 (Warehouse live session)

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Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Tell Me Something New (Warehouse live session)

July 18, 2018 at 6:07 PM · Comments
Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Tell Me Something New (Warehouse live session)

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Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Now The Coast Is Clear (Warehouse live session)

July 5, 2018 at 8:59 AM · Comments
Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Now The Coast Is Clear (Warehouse live session)

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Phonte - So Help Me God (Official Video)

July 2, 2018 at 8:38 AM · Comments
Phonte - So Help Me God (Official Video)

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SoulTracks reviews 'Glaciers'

June 21, 2018 at 4:32 PM · Comments
The music man behind much of the signature tones that have come to define The Foreign Exchange (+FE) sound continues his alchemist trick of making instrumental electronic music feel organic for laypeople who swear they don't care for electronic music. Following a tradition initially established in jazz by artists like Miles Davis and in soul by Stevie Wonder's experimentations in Songs in the Key of Life (peaking in the woefully underrated In A Square Circle), manipulating electronic music to distill the innate robotic coldness of its confines to cultivate something emotional and resonating is a hard row. Most lean into the coldness, creating music that stretches from the industrial and dystopian to the nihilistic and metallic.
Dutch-born, Raleigh-based composer-producer Nicolay has consistently found ways to resist this ease by playing opposites with songs seeking to tell a story without words in ways that still feel human with a capacity to touch. There is an irony in Nicolay calling his fifth solo/duo album outside of the +FE moniker Glaciers, as there is little chilly about this release. Compounding the irony is the name of his collaborators on this epic project, The Hot at Nights (North Carolina-based guitarist Chris Boerner, Matt Douglas on woodwinds, and drummer Nick Baglio). Mixing the fiery trio with his warm electronic sounds on an album suggesting frigid temperatures, Nicolay brings a tongue-in-cheek humor to a project rich with the serious and the bold.

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The Foreign Exchange - June

June 4, 2018 at 10:22 AM · Comments
The Foreign Exchange - June
New music from The Foreign Exchange!
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AllMusic reviews 'Glaciers'

May 27, 2018 at 8:50 AM · Comments
Impeded by a hard-drive crash and conflicting schedules that necessitated a six-year gestation, Glaciers is at once a follow-up to Shibuya Session EP and distinct from everything these four musicians previously made. Keyboardist and composer Nicolay and contemporary fusionists the Hot at Nights -- Chris Boerner on guitar, Nick Baglio on drums, and Matt Douglas on woodwinds -- have recorded and performed with one another long enough to operate on an intuitive level fully explored here. Where Shibuya Session reworked songs from Nicolay's predominantly electronic City Lights, Vol. 2, Glaciers is strictly new material, thereby enabling the producer's supporting trio to stretch out. Contrary to the title, a reference to the challenges of getting the music to the public, most of the album's 40 minutes evoke steady forward motion, adeptly mixing jazz, funk, and downtempo with echoes of Blue Thumb-era Crusaders and Prince's Madhouse that range from faint to ringing. Most special is hearing Boerner play elegantly needling lines like a guitarist freshly liberated from a metal band intolerant of his habitual soundchecking with Michael Sembello's part in Stevie Wonder's "Contusion." The melodies, including several typically spirit-lifting lines from Nicolay and an abundant quantity out of Douglas' sweet-toned saxophone, are as rich and affecting as they are on any earlier release from the Foreign Exchange family. For all the inspirations this applies, it connects the quartet to a global network of like-minded progressives that includes the likes of Terrace Martin, Logan Richardson, Slowly Rolling Camera, and Kamaal Williams.
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Nicolay & The Hot At Nights Journey To The Outer Limits On 'Glaciers' (via SoulBounce)

April 19, 2018 at 7:43 PM · Comments
Though we're always grateful for any new music that comes out of the +FE Music camp, we were not in any way prepared for the one-two punch dealt by our favorite dynamic duo. As our heads are still reeling from Phonte's lyrical masterpiece No News Is Good News released just weeks ago, his creative counterpart Nicolay, along with 8-string guitarist Chris Boerner, saxophonist and woodwind master Matt Douglas and sickening drummer Nick "Nickybagz" Baglio, collectively known as jazz trio The Hot at Nights, followed suit with a musical treasure of their own entitled Glaciers. Previously, they've taken us on journeys through magical places like Shibuya and Soweto as part of their Shibuya Sessions collaborative EP and Nic's City Lights series, and now it seems our quest has taken us to another realm. Though we can always count on the crew for a seamless blend of electronic and live instrumentation, this latest release takes the theme of cohesive versatility to a whole new level.

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Nicolay/The Hot At Nights - Glaciers

April 12, 2018 at 6:59 AM · Comments
Dutch musician and producer Nicolay (of Grammy nominated alternative soul duo The Foreign Exchange) and Raleigh NC trio The Hot At Nights (Chris Boerner, Matt Douglas and Nick Baglio) have been playing and touring together in various guises for years, refreshing their curriculum at every opportunity. There is always groove and lilt and a slick, knowing humor in their music, but it is always carried and earned through powerful musicianship. Most importantly, there is always reach, always an expansion of their musical agenda through complex arrangements and broad compositional risks. This has been true over a handful of albums from both The Hot At Nights and Nicolay independently, but never has their reach been as long as it is on Glaciers.

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