Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shlohmo: Bad Vibes - Album Review

Bad Vibes
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

The 'beat music" field is getting quite crowded these days with artists trying to emulate the fractured beats of the genre's most famous musician Flying Lotus. With so many people jockeying for position, it can be difficult to stand out amongst them all. Some try for even more dense productions, each one competing to be the most abstract. Others, like L.A. producer Shlohmo head into more ambient areas, using traditional instruments such as guitars, rather than exclusively electronics. His second album Bad Vibes is a stylistically diverse collection of tracks that flow from ambient washes of sound, through head bobbing beat-centric numbers, all the way through touches of shoegaze. Though Shlohmo doesn't completely come out from under the Flying Lotus shadow, there is enough originality and inventiveness here to mark Shlohmo as a talent to look out for.

There are several tracks initially that carry the stuttering, wobbly beats of classic Flying Lotus tracks. "Places" and first single "Just Us" are practically Flying Lotus by the numbers; off kilter beats and twinkling, jazzy synths punctuating deeply treated vocal samples.

If Bad Vibes was just more of the same, it would be less interesting and quite frankly disposable. When Shlohmo goes off the track, so to speak, is where he shines. The unexpected pops up in "It Was Whatever," with nature sounds blanketing clicking percussion amid harp-esque guitar, creating a quite lovely midtempo number.

Likewise, "Parties" allows its moments of melancholy to seep into your consciousness, the fluttering beats held together by haunting guitars.

And it all comes beautifully together with the minimal and gorgeously building track "Same Time" with its lovely use of clanking, industrial like percussion, mourning bassline, and effect heavy guitars that border on Slowdive territory.

Shlohmo's shoegaze influences come out on several key tracks. From the buzzed out and reverbed guitars of "I Can't See You I'm Dead,"

to the droned out menace of "Trapped In A Burning House,"

and the effect heavy guitars of "Sink," which are swapped over for fuzzy washes of analog synths.

Bad Vibes is a consistently surprising record, where multiple listens reward the listener by finding new, small details that catch your ear each time. The too reverential nods to Flying Lotus and other beat music artists kept me from truly finding this a brilliant album, however, his excursions down untrod paths definitely makes me interesting in seeing where he goes with his sound.

Rating Guide

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and peaks one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

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