Emerging from the highly respectable Error Broadcast net label today we’ve got a lengthy EP effort from Shlohmo, US based producer of spacey, dreamy and futuristic beats which fit into the finest traditions of the nether-regions of Hip-Hop where tales of alien abduction, dystopian, utopian and outright bizarre futures are viewed with the same sort of ingrained acceptance as bitches, ‘hos and 9mms are in the Gangster clique at the far end of the musical spectrum. All of which alone brings up a few predictable comparisons (Deltron 3030 anyone?) but even if Shlohmo’s existing in the same universe as some of those earlier exponents of open, imaginative and fantastical Hip-Hop he’s in a different enough eigenstate to make the comparison a rather redundant, if not at all insulting one.
What’s here is a collection of semi intellectual/conceptual tracks which alternate between quite clever conjuring tricks when it comes to created a mental landscape which is almost tangible enough to really envisage and letting the listener drift off into a thoughtless and ever so slightly stoned state. Which is nice. The whole thing is composed of laid back, sporadically Jazzy beats which, interspersed with some well chosen samples, do manage to hold together as a clearly intended and fairly successful attempt to move the mind into a certain state where certain imagery emerges. I’m loathe to call it experimental for that intent although it does successfully manage to do to the listener what an awful lot of out and out experimental electronic music fails so miserably at, it creates an organic flow which leads you where the musician wants you to go. A good trick to pull off and a seemingly rather hard one too given the failures that I’ve heard about the place.
The feel that came out of it all, for me at least, was a spacious, almost lonely one, comforting yet mildly terrifying in its magnitude. It’s almost an audio extension of the old Hippy ideals of the likes of Leary and Robert Anton Wilson, where reaching out into that emptiness (physical or audio) is equated with birth; awe and comfort blurring into one experience. I wouldn’t say that Shlohmo is entirely successful with this effort, nor would I say that my interpretation could be viewed as entirely justified (although some of the sampling fits well with what I heard I think). What fault I did find in this EP largely came from the occasional excesses of the Jazz elements where sax solos have been relied on that little bit too much to achieve an effect, especially given the relative mundanity of their composition. But they are well done and it’s far from a constant irritant, in fact for the most part it works very well, although another musical influence at times could have removed the point entirely from my mind.
So all in all it’s well worth a download, the faults being minimal and the EP as a whole being an interesting rarity in its success. I won’t mark it as the best attempt there could be at either concept or sound, but it’s certainly up there as one of the best there currently is, especially within a free music movement so saturated with electronic music and yet so starved of truly listen able Hip-Hop.