Almost 30 years after their debut, 3 Feet High and Rising, transformed the possibilities of a rap record, and nearly 12 years since their last LP, De La Soul are still ambitious outliers. Financed by a Kickstarter campaign, constructed over breaks and beats mined from more than 200 hours of jamming by a live band, and stuffed with guest stars (Snoop Dogg, Damon Albarn, Jill Scott), And the Anonymous Nobody sometimes risks losing Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo in their own record. Tracks like the loopy "Snoopies" (with David Byrne) and old-school throwdown "Whoodeeni" (with 2 Chainz) are glorious bug-outs, but the urban cautionary tale "Greyhounds" (echoing Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City," with Usher on the hook) is a reminder that De La are often more powerful when they're less goofy – and that their greatest strength has always been not caring what hip-hop is supposed to sound like.
This stylishly devised programme juxtaposes cantatas by Rosenmüller, Krieger and Buxtehude with instrumental chorales and sonatas by Scheidemann, Praetorius, Tunder and Weckmann; most of these now known, if at all widely, as forerunners to Bach rather than as fine musicians in their own right as they deserve to be. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Hamburg became a leading commercial port where material and cultural goods circulated freely. Ensemble Méridien has chosen this city as the focal point of a fascinating musical journey through northern Germany, a journey that reveals different aspects of this artistic power. The port of Hamburg was also the driving force behind the north German organ school of the time. Churches were overflowing with magnificent organs, and their building and playing techniques reached extremely high standards, as is evident from the organ music included here. Though most of the music in this recital has been recorded before, it has only appeared on relatively obscure labels, and not in this imaginative context where one may more fully appreciate its dramatic as well as musical merits.