Mndsgn (pronounced “mind design”) is the recording name for Los Angeles-based abstract hip-hop artist, beat maker, and producer Ringgo Ancheta. The album is named after the first and last tracks, “Yawn” and “Zen”, respectively. As he puts it, “Yawn Zen comes from a very neutral place that we, sometimes, are too busy to realize is there.”
“Homewards” is a really nice track. It has a steady acoustic beat with static crackling in the background. Everything ducks out on the bass drum hits for a fraction of a second. A bell rings and sustains a pitch for a while, quickly pitch-shifting down and panning left to right.
One of my favorites is “Exchanging” This track has a mellow guitar melody with soft vocal oohs and muffled vocal accompaniment. Overall, the track has a really relaxed tone. The few sounds that are layered on top of each other make for a really peaceful song. The vocal melody reminds me of Real Estate’s “Past Lives“
As a throwback to December’s Album-a-Day project, “Convert” really reminded me of some of aNTOJE’s work on TAPE #1. Really nice lo-fi beat.
Another one of my favorite tracks is “Camelblues” I love this track because of how minimal it is. The beat is simple, and the chords are reserved and jazzy. The music video for “Camelblues” is really interesting. Mndsgn walks into a thrift store lazily sifts through a rack of shirts before settling his gaze on a small boombox with a keyboard on top. He then proceeds to play the keyboard and quietly sing. One neat thing that I noticed is that he changes shirts, if not entire outfits, in just about every camera cut there is. He also frequently changes his location as well as the keyboard he’s playing on. The video for “Camelblues” parallel’s Mndsgn’s philosophy behind the creation of Yawn Zen: Lots of intricate details and beauties are often hidden in the seemingly mundane drone of our everyday lives. If you blink, you might miss it.
Yawn Zen is a really fantastic album. It’s full of relaxing, interesting, and fresh compositions and beats. It runs just over 30 minutes so if you’ve got time, check it out.
Favorite Track: Homewards