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Listen To Moses Sumney's Neo-Soul Polyphony, 'Quarrel'

The Ghana-born, L.A.-based Moses Sumney has released a second track from his first full-length record, Aromanticism, featuring a stellar line-up and stunning, soulful meditations.

"Quarrel" starts with a slow burn — just vocals over downtempo electronics and acoustics. "He who asks for much / has much to give," Sumney opens. "I don't ask for much / just enough to live," he continues, and a fluttering harp wanders in, punctuating his lyrics. Sumney tells NPR, after seeing harpist Brandee Younger on YouTube, he "flew to Harlem last summer just to record her."

"Quarrel" single art.
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
"Quarrel" single art.

The track quickly wells into a complex polyphony. Sumney's long-time collaborator, Thundercat, appears on bass, and Jamire Williams (Miguel Atwood-Ferguson Ensemble) joins on drums to lay down a constantly changing R&B groove. Paris Strother (KING trio) flips between flickering, piercing synth lines and jazz-flaired piano solos, and Cam O'bi (known for his work with Chance the Rapper, Noname, Vic Mensa) partners with Joshua Willing Halpern (Beck) to produce the track.

"Quarrel" is just as thematically complex as it is musically, touching themes of isolation and pent-up anguish: "Don't call it a lover's quarrel," Sumney dares, "We cannot be lovers / 'Cause I'm the other." The accompanying visuals, done by Sam Cannon, feature a rose trapped in amber. Sumney explains that he wanted something that was simultaneously romantic and a send-up to romanticism— the rose is "preserved against its will, but still manages to decay."

Aromanticism will be out Sept. 22 via Jagjaguwar.

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Jenna Li