Mndsgn Credit: Christoph Thorwartl

“It’s so hard to read anything you’re expressing / it’s so vague / we need just a little clarity,” Mndsgn croons woozily on his 2016 album Body Wash (Stones Throw Records). The line is funny because it’s so baldly inapplicable; everything about hip-hop producer Mndsgn’s music, from his consonant-clotted name (pronounced “mind design”) to his bubbling lounge funk, is obscure and wavering. Each of his three albums finds a staggering, mellow groove and sticks with it—tossing in bass burps, easy-listening keyboard flourishes, and jazzy riffs that head for outer space before shrugging and curling up under the cocktail bar. His most recent production, “Popeye,” for Quelle Chris, is typical of his approach—a looped pleasingly/annoyingly slowed-down, out-of-tune vocal chorus laps under the rapper’s flow like a haze of suds steaming up from a bath. The music seems to come so deeply from within Mndsgn.’s mind that seeing him live with bass, a second keyboardist, and a horn section is both jarring and exhilarating—it’s as if you’re watching the thoughts jump out of his head and boogie in bliss. “Lather me out of this world,” Mndsgn. moans around the key on “Lather.” That’s both a come-on and statement of intent.   v