Around the time of 2010’s Sketches, Theo Parrish shifted from sampling old soul records—long the cornerstones of his house and techno 12-inches—to cooking up his own funk from scratch. Six years after the knotty jazz keys and sprawling drum workouts of 2014’s epic American Intelligence, the Detroit musician goes still deeper on Wuddaji, a hypnotic, mostly sample-free collection of rhythm studies that blur the line between house, funk, soul, and jazz. Parrish lays out his approach in the opening bars of “Hambone Cappuccino,” in which a soft yet insistent Rhodes melody prods at muted kicks and rimshots like a cat nuzzling wooden furniture. In track after track, moody keys slip and slide around loose, off-the-cuff drum programming; as loops and layers build up, these long, linear tracks only become more enveloping. Where the skeletal “Angry Purple Birds” strips down to drums alone, cuts like “Radar Detector” and “Wuddaji” use jazzy chords and splotchy textures to paint a fuller picture of deep-in-the-pocket groove music. Woozily polyrhythmic, “Hennyweed Buckdance” is a late-night party jam for fired-up juke joints, while “This Is for You” occupies the album’s soulful center of gravity, with Maurissa Rose’s graceful benediction—“I see you, sister/I see you, brother/Keep on holdin’ up each other”—rounding out a blissful swirl of electric piano and drums. If most dance music is about the moment at hand, this song takes a longer view, building a bridge from Black America’s past to the long-promised future.

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