Things are not always as they appear, and it’s up to us to approach this as a REinterpretation instead of a MISinterpretation. This is the essence of illusion, which Afrobeta invites all to enter on their fourth full-length album, Illusion Motel. A title initially inspired by an actual physical sign, its long-form development has rendered it symbolic, with songs and stories taking on new shapes as life and its time(line) became starkly unpredictable. Still, along the way, there was one constant to facilitate navigation – a vibrant 15-year artistic partnership between composer/producer Tony “Smurphio” Laurencio and vocalist/lyricist Cuci Amador that’s landed them on some of the world’s biggest stages, with unyielding support and ecstatic anticipation over what might come next.

Throughout Illusion Motel, Smurphio’s signature timbraI tendencies are instantly identifiable; aqueous synth leads effortlessly navigate throughout rhythmic mazes of snapping & shuffling percussion, blanketed in painterly strokes of bass (this is Miami-made music, after all). Cuci’s emotive vocal & lyrical lines provide a challenging counterpoint, creating a tension too complex for standard-issue pop - a welcome sensory distortion, easily memorable even after only one taste. While thirteen tracks might otherwise prove a laborious listen, Afrobeta’s penchant for brevity, micro/macro sequencing and stylistic tourism leave no room for incidentals, coalescing into a tightly-curated affair.

Visual concepts and artwork by longtime friend & collaborator Mariana Mendoza further flesh out Illusion Motel’s themes through subtle manipulations blurring analog and digital forms, beckoning double- and triple-takes, again inviting REinterpretation. While outwardly fun and almost always danceable, Illusion Motel is ultimately about guiding our perceptions towards greater heights – approaching fear with hope, embracing the stark emptiness of loss crashing alongside waves of unknown futures, remembering the playful often stems from the serious, and the mystical is what you make it.