The legend of André 3000 is one that the artist has involuntarily curated over nearly two decades thanks to his reclusive nature, the occasional burst of brilliance on a random guest verse and his penchant for popping up in the oddest of places playing the flute. So, when the elusive Dré 3K announces his debut solo album in the year of our Lord 2023, of course, there will be a buzz. And when that album turns out to be a new age-y, instrumental flute exercise...well, honestly, why would you expect anything else?
New Blue Sun is an instrumental set that finds him collaborating with esteemed musicians like Carlos Niño, Surya Botofasina and Nate Mercereau to create mystifying, ambient sounds centered around Andre’s flute playing. This isn’t the futuristic jazz-meets-hip-hop funk of his cover of “My Favorite Things” or even the more straightforward jazz of his EP Look Ma No Hands from a few years back. Instead, he leans into sounds that seem crafted for times of meditation and introspection.
Most of the titles here, while evoking chuckles, are admittedly ridiculous (“That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control … Sh¥t Was Wild”...like, what?), but they seem completely disconnected from the music itself. It’s all about vibes and zoning out. Essentially, the weirdly creative artist has made an album of songs tailor-made for getting weird and creative.
Is this set mind-blowing? Groundbreaking? Meant to change the course of music as we know it? Nope, it’s none of that. But it is an example of an artist shirking expectations to instead do what actually speaks to them at the moment. It’s also a signal to other artists that it’s completely OK to explore beyond boundaries and discover new ways to express yourself without needing to make a bop, drop bars or zoom up the charts.
If nothing else, New Blue Sun is perhaps one of the most interesting releases of the year and is sure to continue to stoke André 3000’s legend for many years to come.