Like a Snack: MNDSGN’s “Deviled Eggs”

Madeleine Byrne gives a quick look at the newest single from the Los Angeles-based beatmaker and musician.
By    May 7, 2019

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Madeleine Byrne can whip up a mean frittata. 

Some years back when asked by an Italian interviewer to spell out his “sampling philosophy” – especially in terms of his debt to J Dilla –  MNDSGN let it slip that even though he’d been sampling from the very start of mucking about with beats, he was then still more of a student than a composer.

No longer was he listening to music to locate samples, he wanted to learn. “I’ve been listening to music (to get) inspiration, ideas for what I want to play ‘cause I’m also trying to get better at playing keys,” he said. “I haven’t really been in a digging mindset, more than trying to study how they played it, the arrangement and everything (else).”

The results of MNDSGN’s self-study can be heard all over his latest single, “Deviled Eggs” taken from a forthcoming beat-tape, Snaxx Stones Throw due June 14.

Less wavy melodic than previous releases, the song is strict in its formalism; you can count it down by the 10-second intervals as each new sonic element comes in, or just about. None of this is to say that the music is formulaic or hide-bound. There’s plenty of trickery in the way MNDSGN shifts the melody between the parts and the churning elegance of the track’s final moments is something to behold.

Promo material for the new album has MNDSGN saying that it’s “moodier than previous works, less about having a good time.” This comes through in the new song’s darker hue; see, for instance, the way it opens on sharp drums over warm static and MNDSGN’s focus throughout.

In the same interview, MNDSGN was asked to nominate his dream team of musical collaborators from the past. Ringgo Ancheta picked three: J Dilla (no surprise) but also Dave Grusin, the composer/producer who he says worked on a lot of jazz-funk records from the 1970s/80s and the Italian composer Piero Piccioni. MNDSGN notes the latter is a favorite source for hip-hop producers.

All very apt, especially since “Deviled Eggs” samples a Piccioni tune, “Detours” taken from a soundtrack for a 1982 Italian family/friends falling in and out of each other’s beds by the beach comedy, Journey with Papa (In Viaggio con papà)

MNDSGN has said that his music operates as a “conversation with itself”. There is an undeniable foodism strain running through his work, the latest single is no exception. Last year MNDSGN self-released a tape of remixes, dominated by Method Man cuts called Snax, and before this put out a song called “Eggs.” Don’t forget, too, his live DJ shows “Breakfast with Ringgo,” where MNDSGN chops it up with fellow L.A. producers/MCs/singers such as Anderson .Paak, Knxwledge, Swarvy, Pink Siifu, Koreatown Oddity and Ahnnu while at the same time preparing a meal.

All things culinary seems to be the thing for MNDSGN at least for now, but if this track is – as the PR material states – is a taste of the new record, the two year wait between courses – projects – is worth the wait. “It’s deep, deep soul,” MNDSGN said when asked to describe his music when speaking with the Italian journalist in 2016; true that is, a mix of San Diego-New Jersey-Los Angeles spice with added flavor.

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