Madison producer Chants has been making instrumental hip hop and electronic music for a little over a decade now. Last summer, we got a collection of previously unreleased beats from him, but it’s been two years since his last full-length album, Seven Spheres. Now he’s back with his second album on Astral Planes, Poly Pointillism.

One of the great things about Chants is that he’s always pushing himself in different directions, and he takes the time to really absorb things and do them right. For this particular project, he sought to make an album that accurately reflected the mind state of being in lockdown in mid-summer (this is especially tough in a place like Madison, where the summer is absolutely gorgeous, but it never lasts too long). To do this, he first turned to one instrument as a building block for the album – the kalimba. Then, Chants plays a thought and listening exercise with his music, taking some elements of house, such as the pulsing rhythm and building of layers, and then stripping them down to only a few isolated pieces. He then takes those minimal building blocks and pushes your patience by extending the loops beyond your expectations, and toying with them ever so slightly to make you question whether or not you caught something or your mind is playing tricks on you. Just when you think you’re reaching the edge of your patience, Chants pulls the rug out from underneath you and hits you with these bursts of intense musical energy, where his prowess as both a drummer and a student of house music give way to these glorious moments that encourage you to dance out all your frustrations with the world. It’s an intense listening experience, and in lesser hands this wouldn’t hold up over the course of a whole album. With Chants, he is patient and uses a subtle enough hand that he keeps your ears perked and your brain engaged as you wonder just where each track is going to go, and just when it’s going to hit you.

The great ones keep learning and growing and evolving, and Chants continues to impress with new and different projects as his career continues. Poly Pointillism is not for the weak of heart, but for those with adventurous ears, it’s sure to challenge and reward.