The drum beats, breaking slow and strolling or uptempo and skittering. The prominent but hardly oppressive bass throb. The layered, atmospheric synths, often hummed out in minor chords but always evocative. The complement of sonic accessories—chimes, sampled (or live) vocals, various otherworldly digitalia that would impress Flying Lotus. And an abundance of baile funk and Brazilian musical touches, giving a signature sound even more dimension and character.
Those interested in cutting-edge urban music would be foolish to miss Thursday’s headlining performance of scene-scaling producer Sango. The last four years has seen the 25-year-old Michigan-based beatmaker rightfully gain in-demand status—he lent his skills to two Tinashe tracks last year—and seems poised to break through with a new studio album due this year, his first since 2013 underground discovery North. He has released plenty to hold admirers and curious onlookers over, including last year’s Hours Spent Loving You collaboration with also-hot San Antonio crooner Xavier Omär, and an impressive trio of Brazil-inspired EPs called Da Rocinha.
Sango’s rise coincides with that of his imprint, Soulection, the LA-based artist collective/label that has established a considerable presence on the Internet with its embrace of digital platforms and, most especially, its highly regarded weekly music program. The Soulection Radio Show, which just turned 6 years old, is frequently guested by icons like DJ Jazzy Jeff, rappers such as Mac Miller, industry titans like Gilles Peterson and members of its own tribe—like Sango. If you ask co-founder Joe Kay, there’s no format; “Future beats, eclectic soul, forgotten gems, timeless sounds…” is how every show begins. But there’s an underlying and unifying aesthetic that blends R&B, hip-hop, chillout and the experimental low-end LA has all but owned over the past decade. The groove-laden mix is both introverted and alluring, subtle but beckoning.
While Sango’s headlining performance at the Bunkhouse Saloon isn’t part of a Soulection party, it’ll nonetheless serve as one representation of the label’s trademark sound. And with Thursday’s show marking Sango’s Las Vegas debut, we finally get an up-close glimpse of a musical movement.
Sango With Monte Booker. February 2, 9 p.m., $20. Bunkhouse Saloon, 702-982-1764.