Toronto thinker and beatmaker Paul Chin’s latest, And Under Heaven We Are All Made of Water, is an album of few words and deep grooves. With sounds hinting at a neo-soul renaissance, Chin pays homage to the producers who have developed signature styles – when producers were the backbone of the sound – but remains unsaturated by them. Clearly influenced by J Dilla and the ilk of other Afrofuturists, Chin plays with form, bends genres, and gives listeners an experience more than a record. The syncopation of airy synth sounds to the drop of bubbly bass lines invites us to be born, to break out of confinement and burst into our most atomic element: water.
Two of popular music’s biggest artists have released electronic albums in recent memory. Both of them are Black. Paul Chin’s album not only deliberately represents Black thought, Black creativity, and Black rhythms, it also steps into your home and does not make eye contact. It is a reclaiming of dance music as already Black, and creates more of it, mixed richly, meditative, and melodic. Chin’s album feels like it has something to say about the last several (hundred) years of enclosure, with unapologetic opening bars such as “You love what I’m made of/But you don’t love me.” The cultural relevance is well punctuated, but leaves the listener to do their own work, their own introspection, and choose their own adventure. There is something about this wave of Black masculinity knowing itself that is enchanting.
With vibes set high, the rhythmic play between twinkling light sounds reminds us that we are all stardust, and boppy pulses urge us to pull someone near so they can be in the same moment. This is an expertly delivered album of now and beyond.