“Who is the real you?” It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at some point and Nigerian-born, Berlin-based singer Wayne Snow has used this as a starting point for his second album, Figurine.
Wayne Snow is a musical alchemist who draws on the past for his rhythms but looks to the future for his bass lines. He burst onto the scene from the Tartelet Records camp in 2014, alongside Max Graef and Glenn Astro, two of a bumper crop of producers who chopped sample-heavy dance music in a lo-fi style. He sounded like a star but Snow had to grow into his sound. It took three years for him to develop Figurine, but it was worth the wait; he’s now able to channel his energy through songwriting that is quieter and more mature.
From the onset, Figurine is brimming with lush, thematic compositions boundlessly enriched by Snow’s intercontinental influence. Nigeria stands at the forefront of this sonic journey, a place in which drums, synths and colors are all present and accounted for. Tight beats offer up a nod to nu jazz while classical themes of identity and competition infiltrate your mind as you move through the album’s 12 tracks.
Opening track, “Figurine,” sums up the album’s multiple moods. Snow merges R&B grooves with classical piano motifs and experimental breathing techniques to create a mix of melancholy and excitement. It’s a brilliant piece of work and a track that sets the tone for things to come.
Figurine’s most intriguing and exciting moments emerge in the neo-soul chordings of “Nina,” a club-ready hit, and “The Thrill,” an addictive track with a booming, Dilla-esque bass line. The moody closer “Magnetic” and delicate “Silly Games” are also highlights.
Throughout, Figurine melds and bends beats with a sense of experimentalism and wonder. One moment we’re in black and white, inching along with pre-planned steps like chess pieces on a chess board; the next moment, the album slips into color in a bold display of freedom. It’s an incredible piece of work that seamlessly moves between genres, yet never loses its rhythm or the sense of a human behind it all.