Foreign Exchange, otherwise known as the duo of rapper-singer Phonte and producer Nicolay, plays the Promontory on Thursday night.
Debuting with the strictly hip-hop Connected
in 2004, the group have since transformed into one of the most cutting-edge R&B groups of the past decade, churning out albums that forego the glitchy electronics of most left field R&B acts in favor of cleaner, more nuanced music and quirky, diagonal singing. Aside from the work they release as Foreign Exchange, both Phonte (formerly a member of hip-hop group Little Brother
) and Nicolay also issue solo projects, and all their work is released on their own FE Music label. Last month, Nicolay dropped the third volume of City Lights
, a mostly instrumental LP series that is built around a specific location. On City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto
, the beat maker squeezes out tubular synth lines and crisp drum breaks with touches of Afropop and early 80s R&B and disco. It is one of the most overlooked electronic-music or R&B albums of the year. On today's 12 O'Clock Track, "The Secret," Nicolay drops a breathy vocal loop and melancholy, squelchy keyboard lines on top of Midnight Love
-era drum breaks. Check it out below.