Blaqstarr, 'The Divine EP' (N.E.E.T./Interscope)

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The Divine EP
Critical Mass
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Label: N.E.E.T./Interscope

by Marc Hogan

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.

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