Abjo Credit: Courtesy the Artist

I first heard the music of San Diego native Abjo, aka Abraham Joseph, when I stumbled on his 2014 Soulection White Label EP. A nearly perfect hybrid of fractured beat making and laid-back R&B that simultaneously glides and staggers, it remains one of my favorite releases of the decade. Though Abjo has continued to put out new material since then, he fell under my radar, and I mostly lost touch—which was my mistake, because checking in half a decade later confirms that he’s still great. Abjo self-released two albums in 2019: The first, Dilla’s House, pays tribute to rapper and producer J. Dilla by mixing samples and raps from the icon’s recordings into a woozy, distorted stew that sounds a bit like a dub remix of Flying Lotus but ultimately belches and pulses down its own oddly gargling drainpipe. The second, a collection of experimental sketches and loops called Loop.Wav, is even weirder. “Know” sounds like a dreamy pop hook has wandered into a slowly disintegrating car wash; “Phase Trap” suggests a battle between a Steve Reich composition and an advertising jingle; “Love Theme” evokes giant lumbering crustaceans strolling on the beach together, appendage in appendage. The album feels like it’s fallen through a portal from a squishier, more disoriented dimension, where all beats ooze and Abjo is as famous as he should be.  v