Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Mura Masa ft. Bonzai – What If I Go?

In the future there will be no songs, just ever-more-selectively-lucrative incidental micromusic for micromoods. (We will all experience only micromoods.)


Iain Mew: Ad placements for songs are becoming an earlier part of more promo campaigns. One such placement for “What If I Go?” piqued enough interest to get it into the ad Shazam charts, but it means I heard it as a full piece for the first time while already familiar with its chopped-up miniature form. The AlunaGeorge-like segments of sparkling synth and processed vocal sparkle are the highlights, but those are exactly the bits that had already become an online fashion sponsorship jingle to me, context removed. If the new context was compelling enough it might not matter.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s a curious thing that the “Go, go [squelchy noises]” bit that wears so thin when heard repeatedly in the abridged version of the Boohoo advert this soundtracked is actually the best part in its intended context. The rest of the song is essentially a lot of skirting around the issue, a parlour game effort to find as many ways possible of saying the same thing; it at first builds anticipation for the squelches, but soon tempers them. A quite half-baked attempt at a chart hit.

Patrick St. Michel: Probably should credit the vocalist a bit more, my friend, it doesn’t crowd the part under the video that much! Anyway, “What If I Go?” is a fine middle ground between lazy tropical vibes and nervy SoundCloud mutation, where the two give each other plenty of space. Mixing the two sounds together could be a mistake, but it could also be a lot better.

Natasha Genet Avery: I had wanted to write off “What If I Go”– 2012 Majestic Casual meets Clean Bandit, nothing more to see — but Mura Masa’s nimble production continues to surprise me in small but satisfying ways. Bonzai’s not given much to work with lyrically, but her warm, bright (and uncredited) vocals center the track as Mura Masa showcases an impressive variety of textures. Love the shimmery harp-synth glissando and the live drum kit that flits in and out of the track; the processed steel drum, less so.

Alfred Soto: I’ve learned to dread steel drums when used to express sweet longing.

Will Adams: I don’t know why I’m subscribed to Majestic Casual on YouTube. I never click on their near-daily uploads of tracks from acts I’ve never heard of (and about every other name is capitalized and vowelless), because my reaction almost never changes. “What If I Go?” is as pillow-soft as it is studied; but it’s background music, not for sinking into and experiencing up close but for letting softly bleed into your low-key summer party from the next room over.

Jonathan Bogart: Lucky enough to be oversaturated by neither fashion adverts nor the banalities of clubland, I’ve been buried in the dreams and aspirations of earlier musical eras to such a degree that this comes as a startling glimpse into 2016. It sounds just as futuristic and whimsical as I could wish for; and Bonzai’s understated delivery connects to a long history of romantic vouchsafing, of love song that turns into wordless expressions of joy.

A.J. Cohn: Expressing a sentiment at least as old as the Bible — as Ruth said to Naomi: “For whither thou goest, I will go,” so sings Bonzai: “Wherever you go/I’m going with you babe” — this dance track, with its bubbly steel drum line, flutters of harp glissando, and overall excellent production, is an almost perfect summer love jam.

Cassy Gress: Bonzai isn’t actually with the person she’s singing about, as sweet as her vocals are here and as gentle as the accompanying instrumentals are; this is someone who is distant, who she is trying to persuade. She says “don’t be the one that got away”, but I think they already did, and she’s lost in her mind, studiously building stairs to the place where they’re together again. What if she goes? I worry she’s setting herself up for disappointment, is all.

Brad Shoup: Bonzai’s vocal here is gobsmacking: gutting on the refrain, almost ASMRic in that first proper verse. And yet, we’re still in the era where her vocal gets tossed into a pitchshifting funhouse. Still, Mura Masa takes a lot of care with the sonics and the structure. The just-off syncopation, the judicious harp… heck, the muffled snare riff is what Kanye might’ve landed on if TLOP wasn’t about making the wrong choices with conviction.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Although the omission of credit is annoying, Bonzai and Mura Masa have a lovely collaboration here, not unlike the relationship between photographer and subject: Bonzai’s voice is as singular and present as a person captured in an Irving Penn photograph, while Mura Masa provides the backdrop, the light, and the framing. This simplicity unfolds into layers — not in complexity, but in defining and refining the portrait; letting the natural form bloom into a new shape in the darkroom. The end result shows off the production, certainly, but I’m left wanting to know more about the elusive subject instead.

Reader average: [6.5] (2 votes)

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