Our first encounter with Costa Rica’s Raido was an exciting one. “Meant to Be,” the first single off his debut EP of the same name, was a fun first reference of what he is capable of. But the rest of that EP showcased a more contemplative side of him, and he digs deep into it on 哀れ (Aware,) part one of a concept he created, titled 物の哀れ (Mono No Aware): “The Bittersweetness of a Brief and Fading Moment of Transcendent Beauty.” What a mouthful.
哀れ (Aware,) released by his Top Cat imprint, in collaboration with NWLA, is a nine-song mini-album where the main focus seems to be texture. This becomes apparent from the get-go; on opener “Aether,” its organic-sounding drum beat, fat synthetic pads, and 8-bit sounds. Remember that rapid-fire rap on “Meant to Be”? Jesse Baez is back, now singing lines sweetly on “Void.” On each song, elements float around the stereo spectrum, while keeping a highly melodic spirit. The rhythms aren’t necessarily upbeat, but they are contagious, and have a strong hip-hop influence. We find 424 singer Felipe Pérez adding vocals and guitars on “Hierro,” probably the poppiest track on the album. This is a superb comeback for Raido, and a very rewarding listen.