After piquing interest with a Sun Raw remix EP last month, Red Bull Music Academy alum and (apparent) R&B mega-fan Naphta is back with another remix package. This time around, the Polish producer has put forth his oddly slurred take on some of the most critically acclaimed R&B cuts from the last year, drawing from Autre Ne Veut, Shlohmo & Jeremih, and Tinashe. Naphta also draws quite a bit of his sound from regional American staples like Jersey Club and Three 6 Mafia-style, hi hat heavy beat work. The package is highly entertaining, if not spectacular, but few remix packages are at that. Stream two choice cuts from the EP below and download the entire thing here courtesy of Freshmore.
A few weeks ago, Shlohmo performed at The Fonda Theater in Los Angeles and amid a night rife with quality exclusives, one song managed to stand out from the rest: a murky remix Young Scooter’s heavily slept on “Colombia”. The remix has been floating around the internet in rip form for a few weeks, but earlier, Mr. Laufer let it loose to celebrate breaking the 70,000 fan barrier on Facebook. Selling bricks has never this fun. Stream and download below.
When we first heard Shlohmo’s remix of Jeremih’s “Fuck U All The Time” back in October of last year, we were admittedly more than a little giddy to hear one of our favorite producers (and a transcendent talent) take on one of the most dynamic bedroom tracks from one of the best albums (fuck a mixtape) of 2012. When we heard that the two were actually collaborating though, lawdy lawdy did our jaws drop. Coming together as part of Yours Truly’s Songs From Scratch series, Shlohmo and Jeremih got together at Daddy Kev and Nocando’s brand new Cosmic Zoo studio in Los Angeles for a session and produced the immaculate ”Bo Peep (Do U Right)”. Beyond the absolutely brilliant melody and shmanging production, the most remarkable aspect of ”Bo Peep (Do U Right)” is that neither artist is forced to bend or change their style one bit. The track could have easily fit on Shlohmo’s recent Laid Out EP and even more fittingly on Jeremih’s Late Nights tape. Shlohmo’s dense, dissociative beat work and jarring percussion meshes instantly with Jeremih’s soaring falsetto and longing choruses and the results are as emotive as anything we’ve heard from the R&B realm in the past few years. Anything short of a full length collaboration between these two would be a travesty. Before we get to that though, you can stream and download ”Bo Peep (Do U Right)” below and catch the two performing in San Francisco and Los Angeles next weekend (April 5 and 6.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re rather excited about Shlohmo’s upcoming Laid Out EP and are sometimes prone to gushing about Mr. Laufer’s subtle arrangements. The latest tune to emerge from the upcoming extended player comes in the form of “Don’t Say No”, a How To Dress Well assisted slow jam that sees Shlohmo working with a notable vocalist for the first time (?). Like “Later”, the first cut we heard from Laid Out, HTDW’s vocals are often abstracted into a melodic tool, but unlike “Later”, they return to the mix in all their full-throated glory in an attempt to both replicate and break down contemporary R&B conventions. Break out the tissues and don’t say no to this romance drug. Stream below and look out for Laid Out on March 4 (Friends of Friends).
I’m coming at this review firmly entrenched in Henry Laufer’s corner. Not in the dickriding sense, because to be honest I don’t really fuck with some of his stuff, but just in terms of really respecting him as an artist and being willing to entertain the most absurd, abstract ideas of what he may be incorporating into his work and taking everything I pull from the listening experience as somewhat intentional on his part.
Like much of our generation, I get fucked up and sorta like, idk, think about stuff quite a lot. Let’s say I get Laid Out. That’s a pretty fun/fruitful thing to do in this world of constant stimulus and information. It certainly is a unique perspective, one in which I can divorce myself from all the mechanisms I normally use to sort the overload of information pouring into my brain through the Macbook/eyes/ears corridor into meaningful bins. In my weird, drug addled state of being, those bins become a little more convoluted and bits of knowledge that I have accumulated mix together and lead me to some very wacky conclusions about things and how they work.
Much of what enters my being through the computer/sensory superhighway comes in the form of music. I deal with an improbable number of different permutations of frequencies and macro-arrangements of frequency clumps upon which I vaguely cast the “808 drum machine” schema. Ever since becoming obsessed with “Top Back” by T.I., that instrument has meant a lot to me, even though I didn’t know it for years. The same with synths composed generally from saw/square waves, which have constituted the underpinnings of harmony in western pop music for a minute now.
That’s why I fuck with the instrumentation on “Later” by Shlohmo SO TOUGH. I can listen and discern the different 808 hits that I have become so familiar with, the underpinnings of the huge synth bass tones, and I derive pleasure from the “comfort foods” in the soundscape. Yet, there is a carefully wrought gauze over each of his instruments that is never static; it moves, sometimes imperceptibly, but it always pushes each of his sounds forward into what comes next, and it gives everything the sense of novelty that is so prized in contemporary electronic music.
Shlohmo is one of those “pop-conscious” producers, and thus, in a critical analysis of his music, you gotta spend some time thinking about the vocal element. His treatment of vocals has been, dare I say, groundbreaking across his entire Places EP-and-after canon. He doesn’t just put cool effects on well-chopped vocal snippets, he does it in a way that crafts an entire layer of meaning beyond what those voices may be saying. There is a careful attention to inflection that makes utterly digitized voices seem so human and emotive. He takes this to the next level in the lead single from Laid Out, in which a fuzzed out voice relies on his careful effects processing to impart any meaning on the listener. The fact that, without any heterogeneous syllables, I can understand that the voice is saying “I feel it” at the soaring drops is a testament to the skill with which Shlohmo wields his “Ableton Voice”, managing to marry technical skill with the visceral impact of pop. Well done mans.
So as to not leave my earlier run on sentences about drug use hanging, let me get into the arrangement of the elements in this tune. The most salient impression I got from my first listen to “Later” was how much of a jump in song structure and development this represents for him. It’s subtle, there are few clues to guide you out of a 6 minute trance, but for me, this song is centered around three big moments, which have this awesome chorus/drop hybrid feel to them. Between the drops, the arrangement swirls around to give this awesome pushing/pulling sensation that sets up the big moments with a sense of eventuality. There is a moment of silence, and then, boom, you feel it. To me, these moments represent my hazy flashes of realization in the midst of some drug induced stupor, and hearing a sonic representation of these ephemeral occurrences puts me in a thoughtful, open-minded place. I’m sure different people will have different reactions to this music, but I think this is art that forces a personal reaction in the listener if he or she listens closely. That’s why you should listen, and listen carefully to this song.
Shlohmo’s ‘Laid Out’ EP drops March 5 via Friends of Friends/Wedidit.
Can we talk about Steven Ellison for a moment? Just take a few minutes out of this lovely Sunday afternoon to recognize what the man stands for and what he represents in the 2012 music landscape. This little piece probably won’t include anything that hasn’t been said, but it’s so worth reiterating it, especially this week. As Flying Lotus, Steven Ellison has produced some of the most divergent, thought provoking and challenging
electronic music of the past 20 or so years. Since his arrival, Mr. Ellison has essentially put Los Angeles’ instrumental hip hop movement, known by most as the “beat scene”, on his back, pushing it into international waters. Despite being the figurehead of this movement, touring incessantly and heading a hugely successful label, he is still the very best at what he does. Furthermore, he seems to genuinely enjoy making music, meeting fans and performing. If you’ve ever seen a Flying Lotus set, you know what I’m talking about. That ear-to-ear smile is just impossible not to replicate. That’s why it isn’t even remotely surprising that Ellison devised and followed through on the Captain Murphy project. Ok, his above-average rapping ability is a little surprising, but the fact that he would release a free album featuring a menagerie of the best MC’s and producers in hip hop shouldn’t be. So before getting to the rest of this week’s sounds, can we all take a moment to thank Steven Ellison? He deserves that much from us.
Little Dragon make some of the most unabatedly bright pop music around. I can attest that they bring down the fucking house in a live setting, leaving no rumps unshaken. Shlohmo doesn’t fuck with unabatedly sunny. Shlohmo fucks with pitched down vocals, sharp drum hits and intransigently dark synths. At least in his remixes. There’s a pretty clear trend in the Los Angeles native’s retwerk work (see here and here and here) towards dark, harsh and minimal, which at a certain point might get a little oppressive and boring, but I’m with it until then. There’s a reason people keep coming back to these tunes, right? Anyways, the downloads have run out, but you can stream below and use your own facilities to search out a download link.
“Ghosts Pt. 2″ was the first Shlohmo song I ever listened to and marked the beginning of my fanboy-like adoration for the man some know as Henry Laufer. It’s been a treat to witness him grow as an artist and explore new territories with every release, but it all started with the twinkling piano of “Ghosts Pt. 2″ off of 2009′s Shlo-Fi EP. Apparently, Groundislava remixed the track and has been rinsing it in his live sets as of late with great success. So much success that a groundswell of requests brought him to let the bootleg loose on the public. Following Groundislava’s recent inclinations towards house music, the delicate keys of the original fuses with a funky bassline and the result is really just sublime. Songs like this are the reason why I love writing about music so much. Both Shlohmo and Groundislava have soundtracked some of the best and worst moments of my adult life and for that, I thank them. A download would be great, but in the meantime, just keep the Soundcloud window open and vibe to it.
Traphouse still tippin’
Let’s be honest here, as much as we’ve raved about all the other “Fuck U All The Time” remixes, we’ve really just been waiting for the Mr. Henry Laufer to take a stab at Jeremih’s libertine anthem. The latest Shlohmix might be his best since “Crew Love” and sees pitched down Jeremih harmonizing with whoever that girl is, as well as regular Jeremih, an effect that seriously ups the sex factor. Nothing innovative here, but Laufer has really perfected that codeine-ified trap sound. As of now, the download link is disabled so you’ll have to find the remix using your own facilities for now. Stream below.
Flume makes a brand of populist hip hop that is eminently danceable and manages to stand on its own surprisingly well. It’s light-hearted, soul-sampling fare that doesn’t dig too deep into the soul-searching realm. Shlohmo on the other hand lacks nothing in the deep, dizzying, introspective department. Taking on Flume’s “Sleepless”, off of the EP of the same name, the Shlo man dredges up the original in, what else, 808′s. The remix takes place at 140 BPM, but is far from the bleepy-bloop shit that is currently driving me to DMX levels of insanity. Jezzabell Doran’s vocals are put through multiple filters and take on a slightly ghoulish quality, with unsettling results. Ghost. The track is off of the Sleepless EP, out now on vinyl with the digital out on October 8. Stream below.