“The Perfect Lullaby,” by Nguzunguzu (2011)

by Chris Randle

The trouble with Nguzunguzu being so great? Their name is still hard to type. (Can we call this the Merrill Garbus Problem?) At least that mouthful of a moniker, inspired by carvings from the Solomon Islands, suits their whorled rhythms. The DJ duo have a monomaniacal side: their “Moments in Love” mix unites 20+ remixes and edits of the old Art of Noise single. But my favourite thing they’ve ever done is the recent “Perfect Lullaby” set, and it moves across a larger, more expansive canvas. Merging gauzy, feather-light reworkings of AAA R&B (Ciara, Amerie’s “1 Thing,” The-Dream) into a carefully assembled whole, the mix is 48 minutes of unrelieved loveliness.

Nguzunguzu’s approach to R&B diverges from the lo-fi, indie-friendly, highly controversial aesthetic of How to Dress Well or the Weeknd. The former sounds as if he’s recording inside a drainpipe, while the latter prefer their tracks listless, washed-out and Beach-House-sampling. But hey, I like a lot of songs that might have been captured on equipment found curbside, and not in spite of that. It’s just that the production of “Perfect Lullaby” better amplifies its borrowed vocals, remains sensitive to their emotional nuances.

In the Weeknd’s alienated lyrics, sex and its catalysts are oppressively constant, the bottle service of the damned. This transcendent Nguzunguzu remix of Ciara’s “Deuces” remix (more tongue-twisting) conjures up a different vision of the party’s end: Thought that it was perfect, hope that it was worth it / But I’ll be okay, no more stress, no more pain / I’ll be straight, I’m chucking up them deuces.

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