Things move with gentle steadiness on Surface, the new EP from Minneapolis producer su na, the alias of Alec Ness. It’s a patient, futuristic R&B record that’s so immersive, it borders on synesthetic. Like a camera's image coming into focus, blurry chordal backgrounds change into sharp lines just as the moment’s right, and Surface does prove to be a snapshot of very, very deep things. On Surface, su na delivers six new beautifully dense songs that blend hip-hop with glassy soul. Opener “Tell Me” unfurls like dawn over a sleepy city, while closing track “Essex” sways like it’s had one-too-many drinks.
su na began experimenting with this brand of shadowy R&B in 2013, and in only a short time has been featured on BBC Radio 1, Apple Music Beats 1, and tastemaker collective Majestic Casual. He’s released a steady stream of singles and official remixes for GoldLink, Gallant and JOY. su na is once again working with talented company. “Tell Me” features a come-hither hook from Chicago singer Ravyn Lenae, while Dizzy Fae lends her moody voice to “Complexion.” The stormy hip-hop cut “Exotic” invites London MC Lord Apex to drop rapid bars over tempered steel drums. Flight Facilities collaborator Christine Hoberg muses about modern forms of distance on “Depart.”
su na’s detailed beats and fulsome chords are what brings it all together, and on Surface his music reaches a new level of polish and power. It’s music for wandering the streets alone; it’s music for waking up together. su na plays with ideas of passion, longing, and release, and Surface is a record that demands day-long repeat listens. Like Ta-Ku and Mr. Carmack, su na proves that digitally-produced future R&B can beat with a human heart. - Scott Heins, Okayplayer