Pranesh Kamalakanthan has long had a touch for gorgeous sounds. As one-half of the Raleigh synth-pop duo Faux Fleurs, the young producer first hit with an airy, luxurious production style, immeasurably rich in balmy texture and inventive small touches. The excellent LP Higher Delight, from 2015, felt like the sonic equivalent of lying on the ocean floor and gazing up at the surf. It signaled Kamalakanthan as a promising talent to watch in the Triangle electronic music scene. Burgeoning, his first solo full-length release as RGB, is a strong follow-up and a return on that promise.
Burgeoning is an album that evokes a world. Every track builds a miniature environment in your headphones, and you can lose yourself in the details. Live saxophone, water washes, sitar, distant bells, and the occasional French lullaby are but a few of the elements Kamalakanthan deploys. On "Peak," vocalist Laura Vetil weaves a hypnotic dream-pop vocal through gentle percussion, harp samples, and hazy Balearic pads. Elsewhere, "Indecisive" incorporates ominous bass and a memorable spoken-word sample of Herbie Hancock explaining how Miles Davis taught him to turn "poison into medicine."
Hip-hop seems to influence a fair bit of Kamalakanthan's music, and the LP has a few out-and-out hip-hop moments. On "Pockets," rapper Charleston High spits a few bars about self-reliance, with a refrain of "Trying to wake up in the morning with a pocket full of freedom." From the opening bits of crowd chatter to the closing liquid reverberations, Burgeoning channels optimism, but also a bit of uncertainty and mystery that rewards repeat listens and introspection. —David Ford Smith