Music has the ability to take you places that you might never have dreamed of, musically and physically. In the case of Cristobal Jimenez Van Cauwelaer what started out as a back-bedroom beat-making project in his Chilean home evolved into a full live band operation after moving to London. And musically Not A Citizen seems to sit between both places, a deft blend of sampled beats and urban sonics and the inspirations drawn from the breath-taking South American landscapes that he left behind him.
The clever thing is that even though the sound has evolved from those simple beginnings an ocean away, it still seems as much built on atmosphere and sparseness as the music being woven around such emotive spaces. Jazz chords are subsumed by drifting ambience, unfussy beats drive an unashamedly lo-fi sound and the vocals feel almost otherworldly or at least world weary.
When so many people making music which is merely languishing in past sounds, riding hip-hop coattails or riding raps reputation to find an easy path through the creative process, Not A Citizen is truly innovative. The individual sounds that are used as building blocks may sound familiar but it is the overall result which is startlingly fresh and forward-thinking. And more than that there are many unexpected sonics found here, sultry brass sounds, sweet and hazy background vocals, the shimmering guitars, all of which might sound out of place or out of context in lesser hands.
The charm of Floating Away is not just the wonderful chilled sound and minimalism that it is built from but from Not A Citizen‘s ability to juggle sounds which perhaps shouldn’t really work side by side. But that is the difference between a deft and tasteful music maker and someone just going with the predictable flow.