Blaqstarr, ‘The Divine EP’ (N.E.E.T./Interscope)
Charles “Blaqstarr” Smith is still the insular Baltimore club scene’s best crossover hope. The ghostly, layered repetition and subwoofer thump of the DJ/producer’s 2007 Supastarr EP still remain after a jump to M.I.A.’s label (he also contributed substantially to her last two albums). But on this follow-up, Blaqstarr artfully chops and manipulates his own vocals — a soulful rasp, an Auto-Tuned robot cry — while integrating more organic instrumentation that owes a debt to indie aesthetics. Eerie, empty spaces and guitars that range from bluesy acoustic to jet-engine distorted help transform The Divine EP into a mesmerizing, nuanced seduction.