Welcome to Nervous Recs, the VICE staff's personally vetted recommendations to help us all survive the very strange time that is coronavirus quarantine.
Even before social distancing and self-quarantining, figuring out what to listen to on any given day was already hard. There's a seemingly unlimited library available for streaming, but now that we're cooped up at home for an indefinite amount of time, you couldn't fault anyone for just putting on an old favorite. However, if you're looking for a challenging album that sounds unlike anything you've heard, try the latest from Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. BRAT, which the 29-year-old artist is releasing under the name NNAMDÏ', is not just his most impressive work yet, but also one of the year's most thrilling albums so far.
Ogbonnaya is a prolific and integral figure in Chicago's music community. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he's performed with a wealth of bands, filling in on drums in acts like Ohmme and Ratboys, as well as bass in Nervous Passenger and Spencer Tweedy's solo band. This is just a small slice of his resume, as Ogbonnaya is also head of the vibrant label Sooper Records, which boasts rising artists like Kaina and label co-owner Sen Morimoto. But it's his solo output that stands out in his widespread oeuvre, like on his eccentric 2017 LP Drool, where he proved to be a formidable rapper and oddball producer.
Last month, Ogbonnaya told Flood Magazine, "a lot of BRAT was recorded in a very self-isolated period of my life. I recorded all those songs by myself—there’s no other engineer in the room, it was literally just me for days recording different things. So I’m definitely not a stranger to self-quarantining." Though it's undeniably a cohesive full-length, BRAT finds Ogbonnaya adventurously blending genres throughout its 12 tracks. The whole thing is a disorienting listen in the best possible way. Ogbonnaya is a master at throwing curveballs from the almost alien-like flow of the rap-minded "Price Went Up" to the delicate acoustic strums of opener "Flowers to My Demons."
Considering Ogbonnaya self-recorded and performs most everything on BRAT (Ohmme's Macie Stewart, Sen Morimoto, and Ratboys' Julia Steiner contribute as well), it's the perfect soundtrack for time spent alone. But even though this LP came out of solitude, he proves that it doesn't have to be claustrophobic or uninviting.
Brat is available to purchase on Bandcamp and to stream on services including Spotify, Apple Music, TIDAL, and elsewhere.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.