Available on: Friends of Friends digital EP
Shlohmo is one of those California beat producers who tended to blur together with the rest in a bumpy parade of psychedelic hip-hop; pleasant but ultimately unmemorable.
Well, so much for that. Henry Laufer, in the midst of finishing up his second LP for the rapidly growing Friends of Friends label (recently home to excellent full-lengths from Salva, Groundislava, and Mexicans with Guns), casually drops a sneak-peek EP of hushed, acoustic-driven beats and by God, I’m sold. Remember ‘folktronica’, anyone? Laufner’s gone and wedged all sorts of live instrumentation and vocals into his boom bap structures, and the result is a breathtaking rustic pastoral that feels more woodsy than electronic. The unwaveringly gorgeous ‘Places’ – taken from the upcoming LP – wanders through a dark forest like Mount Kimbie on shrooms: clicking percussion, manipulated moans, snaky guitar loops, everything you could expect to hear on anchemically-assisted walk through the woods. But when it hits the clearing the sun comes out in full force, blanketing the track in warm, comforting reverb as Shlohmo’s careful slide guitar runs reverberate across the empty space. In a word, breathtaking.
The other three tracks are B-sides not included on the album, and honestly, sound a little like it; none of them share the same “look at me, I’m beautiful” factor of ‘Places’, but they provide more angles on its intriguing acoustic-based sound. ‘Forgot I Was Here’ is a lazy duet between steel guitar and piano, basking in the waves of electric guitar and accompanying feedback that wash over its second half. ‘Things I Lost’ tunnels deep underground, focusing on its makeshift percussion as bits of natural light slip in through the cracks, and ‘Empty Pools’ is a beatless, shimmering mirage of elegant guitar noodling and haunting samples. It’s ever rarer that you can say someone has truly found something unique in electronic music, but whatever Shlohmo stumbled up on his nature walks sounds pretty damn different to me.