Album Review: Stimulator Jones – La Mano

[Mutual Intentions; 2021]

No doubt about it, Stimulator Jones makes babymaking music. The erotic, hip-hop-infused R&B production laced with delicately reverbed vocals that comprised his debut LP Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures more than proved his talent for creating smooth and sensual slow jams. On La Mano, Jones ditches the vocals and brings his beats to the forefront, depending entirely on his own playing of organic instruments and letting the listener know what his hands are capable of (hence the album’s title).

La Mano sees Jones expanding his musical palette by introducing jazzy arrangements into his compositions while still retaining glimpses of the smooth R&B sound of his first record. The opening track “Drama Time” begins with a minute of free-form jazz before finding its way into a groove, perfectly setting the tone for the album, which flows with an ephemeral fleetingness (over half the songs on the album don’t run over the three minute mark).

While Exotic Worlds was something to play in the bedroom, La Mano could also be something to play at a fancy lounge party. The airy strings and sinewy percussion of the title track’s intro sound like they could belong in a Piero Piccioni soundtrack from the 70s, delivering an atmospheric and laid-back vibe while juxtaposing it with hip-hop flavored rhythm sections, which also feature on songs like “Floatin On” and “Cupcakes”. His knack for instrumental looping that characterized his lo-fi hip hop work from past projects is still present on a song like “Stoned Sneakers”, albeit in a bit more polished and instrumentally fleshed out way.

Jones has spent the past couple of years continually adding more layers to his sonic output, whether through vocals or organic instrumentation. Going back to solely using instrumentals on La Mano turns out to be a step forward, as it highlights his growth as a well-rounded musician with a knack for creating sultry and seductive songs, with lyrics or without.