Kaytranada - 99.9% (2LP)
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Kevin Celestin's stature grew through woozy dancefloor funk remixes that led to DJ gigs, including European dates and opening for fan Madonna in North America. Despite the acclaim, along with admiration from the likes of Janet Jackson and Teedra Moses -- two of the major figures whose material he transformed -- the Port-au-Prince-born Montreal native wanted to be known as an artist in his own right. A low-profile series of digital and vinyl releases dated back to 2010. In late 2014, he graduated to XL as he expanded his production discography for other artists. The dazzling 99.9% follows some of his best work in that nature, including Freddie Gibbs' "Dope House," the Internet's "Girl," and Katy B's "Honey." The album likewise is mostly collaborative, with only four of the 15 cuts created by Celestin alone. During the solo moments, the producer radically flips, with joyous and glistening flair, choice early-'80s R&B from Delegation, and the System-produced Attitude. On "Lite Spots," sampled Gal Costa is whipped into a state of delirium over a beat that alternately whomps and tickles. Separate pairings with BadBadNotGood and Karriem Riggins offer dreamy instrumental highlights. The assortment of vocalists -- rappers, singers, and a few who pull double duty -- naturally results in a diverse set of perspectives, most of which regard love and relationships of short- and long-term natures. Combined with beats seemingly tailored for each voice, the album could have resembled a disorderly production showcase, yet Celestin applies his experience as a deeply knowledgeable selector to stitch it all together with few obvious seams. He excels most at bold modern boogie with spring-loaded drums, zip-and-glide basslines, and radiant keyboards, as laid out for the Internet's Syd and the Foreign Exchange's Phonte. The harder-edged tracks that support Vic Mensa and Paak are likewise accented with sweetening, whether through levitating harmonies or spangly synthesizers. One of the more stupefying instances where Celestin layers dazed and robust sounds is buried toward the end. "Leave Me Alone," surrogate Quadron with bounding low end, brings it home with a giddy vocal from fellow Montreal native Shay Lia.