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NIN3S – Hopeyard – Dorado Records

The pandemic affected everyone differently, we certainly all struggled, but for some, it was a moment of reset – a period for creativity to flow and new projects to blossom. For Manu Garcia, this meant the retirement of the influential Uner moniker, although thankfully, this meant the beginning of NIN3S. A foray into musical discovery, blending the new and the old, electronica and classical – a simple outpouring of love and passion which has empowered Manu’s journey so far as a musician. Our interview with NIN3S at the beginning of the year revealed that this project has been on his mind for some time. The world works in mysterious ways, and if it wasn’t for the past two years, who knows how long we might have had to wait to hear ‘Hopeyard’, his new album. It’s an LP full of atmosphere and delicately beautiful – Garcia’s musicianship is truly captivating.

The opening track ‘Adeve’ balances jazz, classical, and electronica elements together without ever feeling out of sorts. Broken drums that are Dilla-Esque suddenly turn into DnB – it shouldn’t work, but it does… must be to do with all those years of classical training and education. In the distance, the harmonious sounds of Teal Jazz’s brass float and glide along NIN3S’ sound waves. A perfect opening, one might say.

I’m happy to say the collaborations continue throughout the album, with the differing artists synchronizing perfectly with NIN3S’ sound. Toshi Tikolo’s voice is given the space it deserves on ‘Khokhoba’. The drums and piano intertwine with her as she sings, but they never overpower her, and as the atmosphere gently builds, her voice elevates the song to another level.

NIN3S love for composition and film are a clear influence on ‘Ascension’. It’s a sonic, cinematic piece with chords that slowly hit and resonate out. It wouldn’t go amiss in a film’s final scene, where everything’s in slow motion, and we’re not sure if the stars will make it – maybe you’ll just have to listen to this one to find out if they do.

Standout track ‘The Tunnel’ features Nigerian singer-songwriter Irvin Suavewho, whose soulful voice brings hope to lyrics about escaping pain and loneliness. NIN3S melancholy synths and Irvin’s song lift the story up to its new beginnings, somewhat reflective of Manu’s own musical journey in recently finding a new way to express himself. There would definitely be magical energy when this song is performed live, and I reckon maybe NIN3S already knows this – grab your lighters if you manage to see him play this one.

The second half of the album sees more artists linking up with NIN3S to produce something beautiful. Ellis Hudson perfectly captures the mood on down-tempo ‘Times’. And NIN3S teams up with Outside on the previously released ‘So Far, So Close’, an elegant, inventive track that masterfully blends genres and highlights the strengths of the artist’s production skills.

Drums provide the intrinsic rhythm to most NIN3S tracks, and take centre stage on ‘Darkness in the Backyard’ and ‘Scars’. It’s not because they’re overly loud; they just help guide the tracks to different places, lifting the energy when needed – a crash or ghost note here, creating a groove that pulls you in where you discover even more of NIN3S production magic.

There are plenty of gems on this album, but the closer is one of the best tracks and where NIN3S musical background comes to the forefront. On ‘Devil’s Hopyard’ he’s able to show his skills, if we hadn’t already noticed yet, as a masterful pianist. It’s a melodic composition that beautifully ends a new beginning for Manu, and makes it all the more intriguing to see what he does next under his new alias NIN3S.

‘Hopeyard’ is now available via Dorado Records. Stream and buy here.

Tracklist:

1. Adeve feat. Teal Jazz
2. Khokhoba feat. Toshi
3. Ascension
4. The Tunnel feat. Irvin Suave
5. Darkness In The Backyard
6. Simulation Happiness
7. So Far So Close feat. Outside
8. Times feat. Ellis Hudson
9. Scars feat. Teal Jazz
10. Devil’s Hopyard

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