Han Drabur is a one man show masterminded by Dan Handrabur, dually based out of Vancouver and Poiana Copăceni, Romania. He brilliantly blends blues and electronic beats in a way that will make you question everything you thought you knew about the two genres. Using vocals by some of the greatest old school blues singers ever recorded, he has created a leviathan of an album, titled Delta Rezuwreckshan. The pulsating beats flow in a way that make the album a good one to listen to while getting some serious work done, and the layers of vocals and guitars are worthy of contemplation. Altogether, it is a series of nineteen tracks that fit most situations, making it appropriate for any moment that demands some good sound.
The first song on the album, “What The Blues Is (Rokk Me)” is the height of a productivity playlist, the song that comes on just as the gamma waves hit and all cylinders are firing. The track blends blues and electronica in a fast-paced feat of magical mixing.
“Moonriser” feels like sitting outside on a Southern summer evening, enjoying good company with a cool beverage in the thick heat. Slide guitar like the icing on Coca-Cola cake drizzles melody over drums that are light like sunshine. Shrouded vocals (by Odea Matthews, “The Moon is Rising” from Angola Prisoners’ Blues) hint at the mystery held within the bookends of every night, and the discoveries revealed by the illuminating rays of moonlight. The bass plays with the drums during the break in a way that pulls back, preparing the listener for the next track. “Dream Come True” has a shapeshifting beat, at times layered like coconut in paleo waffles; at others, reminiscent of the synthetic fibers and of the nineties, until the break. The keys come through with sheer glee, like a dog with its head out of the window of a moving automobile. The bass gives the track some heft, tethering the keys to something solid before they can break free and float away.
The opening to “Look Ahead” feels orchestral. From there, the song evokes that feeling I felt when I first listened to the Gotan Project over croissants in a South American bed and breakfast. At some points, the electro beats hold the promise of adventure like old video game music; other moments feel less binary and more musical. Throughout, the bluesy vocals (by Son House) give the track a human edge, with more emotion in a single jittery falling note than many average SUV-driving, procreating, college-educated professionals experience in a lifetime. After the slow beats of the previous tracks, “Back Home” feels like a party. The keyboards, paired with the steady bass beat, produce the electronic ennui of groups like Royksopp, but more flavorful, like chili powder in eggs. I like it.
“Tall Blonde Blooze” takes a stroll in the shadows. With guitar edge honed on a percussive strop, the track has an industrial feel that contrasts with the smoothness of “Back Home.” In the narrative of Delta Rezuwreckshan, “Tall Blonde Blooze” reminds the listener that there is always something unexpected and unknown lurking in the shadows of the familiar.
The album moves forward into acceptance of the surprising, making it work, with “Hear U Cryin.” All the funkiness I could hear in my head (but could never produce) as a kid with a Casio comes out in the danceable tune with delicious guitars and a beat that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is something about the inmates’ vocals in “Last 18 Years” that make you lean in. Then comes the narration of a man tormented for decades by law enforcement. He tells his story in a bone-chillingly matter-of-fact way that pushes my mind to that uncomfortable place where I wonder how the wrongs of institutionalized injustice could ever possibly be righted.
“Bring My Baby Back” parallels the vocal swells in the pulsing beat, punctuated by guitar embellishments and harmonica burnishing. The vocals, another appearance of Son House, come through with a wanton wanting wonting, and the harmonica goes and goes and goes in a lung-powered groove that I wish could last forever. Clara Young’s vocals in “Soldier’s Blues” are that architectural detail on a building, that spray painted art on the sidewalk, that strange bird that you must have seen a thousand times but never noticed before. The vocals make you stop what you’re doing as they glide on currents of dark electro-sound. Hollow tingling tinkling beats, strings, and synth slide through the track, mixing the humane with the technological aspects that can create or destroy, depending on the whim of the operator. The song, played loud enough, could melt the features of the faint of heart, so be careful with the volume knob on this one.
The beat in “All I Need” pops like the bubbles in a chocolate milkshake, as the slide guitar is the cherry on top. The vocals, by One String Sam, are gritty like the streets of South Boston. They cling to the guitar like two friends in a sea of strangers. The juxtaposition is like a high speed train delivering you from urbanity to a countryside bustling with the infinite wonders of nature. The beat delivers you to the soul of the sound: that nugget of humanity that spurs musical expression. Opening “Eyegotta Woman” is guitar that says more than the printed word can wrap its kerf around. The song somersaults into a beat-driven musicomorph and, with bass deep and low, soothes and smooths the choppy beats down as Bill Sims Jr’s vocals blow the dust away to reveal a variegated reality shifting around under the forces of love.
“Whirlclass Butterflies” writhes like a worm in the sun. A progressive beat pairs with a bassline clean like Mr. Clean’s scalp to lift the track off the ground so it may make its fractal journey in three dimensions of free airspace. The track levitates and soars, bolstered by Fred McMullen’s vocals. Pulling the listener back to Earth is “I’m Strollin.” The track holds on to the dark vibe heard earlier, with vocals dangerous and dirty like filterless cigarettes. The beat bounces inorganically, unable to be stopped, shifting as it goes. Then, “Shiftpole” is a journey through a wormhole. You don’t know where it’s going to lead, but it’s exciting nonetheless. Beats ranging in texture precipitate steadily with vocals and otherworldly beats. The melody is in there, but you have to listen for it.
“Sliding Numbers (Soundskam)” synths in, sneakily, a slow burning beat, with metallic guitar like the acidic sting of hot barbecue sauce. The vocals feel private, like the women on display behind the glass in Amsterdam. The track is a slow-motion freefall to a tight conclusion to the album. “Rok Me” returns to the energy of the opening track. Like the love child of Muddy Waters and Paul Oakenfold, the song is progressive in a way that allows the listener, however much of a veteran they may be to electronic music, to experience the sound in a new way. The final track on the album is “Wailing.” It starts out low, flying under the radar in a delicious way, like chocolate hidden in a pumpkin muffin. The beat is deep and deeply melodic. The song bubbles and burbles and develops so I never want it to end. As Delta Rezuwreckshan comes to an end, my cilia flail, in synchronized protest, for more.
Han Drabur has demonstrated that nothing is as it seems. Every piece of apparent minutiae in the universe has the potential to be something great, and as I listened to Delta Rezuwreckshan, Han led me across a wide expanse of time and space, showing me new things at every stop along the way. This is music for people who love music. This is music for the evolution of mankind.