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Album Reviews

Shlohmo – Dark Red

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Label: True Pantha / WeDidIt
Score: 8.5/10

It’s easy to forget that Shlohmo has only been releasing since 2009. The L.A. producer’s name has consistently cropped up over the past 6 years, whether it be thanks to his brilliant debut album, Bad Vibes, as part of the forward-thinking WeDidIt collective, or simply because nobody seems to be able to shut up about him. And for good reason too; Shlohmo’s mission for an ever more emotive sound has led to captivating results; touching even, on a level that most could only dream of.

Returning to the full-length format in style, Shlohmo showcases yet further progression of his (already substantial) arrangement abilities. A sleek, effortlessly cool album, Dark Red moves away from the organic sonics of Bad Vibes, into far more synthetic territory. Fear not the robotic coldness of machines however, a hefty helping of analogue fuzz will see to that.

Shlohmo seems far more concerned with striking a balance between uplifting and melancholic. Each track is built upon so many layers as to always contain multiple elements of both, constantly shifting, developing; creating stories, in the true sense of the word. The screeching, central line of opener ‘Ten Days of Falling’, teeters on the edge of abrasive nonsense, before it is submerged in a protective ooze of pads; the toasty undercurrent of ‘Apathy’ ties together dozens of competing stabs and textures, like a balloon seller afraid to lose his product to the wind.

Don’t for a second imagine Dark Red to be a spineless collection of synths or guitars though; the beats themselves are where Shlomo really shows off. The intricate arrangements of ‘Meet Ur Maker’, the skittering footwork of ‘Fading’ and the surprising drum & bass of ‘Beams’ all offer a masterclass in sequencing and break-work. The percussion lives symbiotically with the synths too. In ‘Ditch’, the fidgeting drums compliment the mutant, underworld bassline; whilst in ‘Emerge From Smoke’, the overdriven kicks are sanded down by a smooth low end.

A stunning collection, Dark Red is an album of fine details lost in a sea of information, like the answer to a code only someone has split ink all over the page. Each track may at first appear to take one direction, one theme, but it should never be taken at surface value; ever deeper meanings can always be extracted. Even at his most minimal, Shlohmo constantly asks questions, adds to the intrigue. On ‘Remains’, he may collect a mish-mash of beats and chimes, but they all play their individual part. The sound is delicate, but simultaneously almost unlistenable. This is the essence of Dark Red; beauty made human by the ugly, and fear made friend by greeting it with open arms.

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