Review Summary: A virtually unknown mixtape that’s so difficult to forget
For all the constant cries that mainstream music is overrated, that the best sounds you can hear come from unknown artists and that the music business is driven by marketability rather than talent, it is nonetheless rare to hear anything truly special from someone lacking any kind of serious following. But that isn’t to say it doesn’t happen.
To put it lightly, Kyle Y, aka Smoke Room, of Anaheim, California based Zoom Label Records, blew me away when I was directed to his bandcamp by sputnik user WashboardSuds. He manages to take an R&B aesthetic and mix it with beats that draw simultaneously from ambient artists and k-pop. As strange a combination as that is, he works it out in excellent fashion.
Opener “Boiler” sets the pace with fierce ambiance reminiscent of Tangerine Dream
until its instrumental hip-hop style rears its head. Gripping and powerful without being overbearing, the track is an uncanny introduction to his varied talents. The not so subtle and incredibly immediate “Soyu” follows gorgeously, ditching the ambience in favor of exploding k-pop styled vocals, a better fit for a venue like Madison Square Garden than the majority of music that’s played there.
Throughout the mixtape, Smoke Room refuses to settle into a mold, with the modern hip-hop “GD&Top”, the Bjork
-esque “No Love” and the glitchy “Moist” showing off a few of the many facets of Kyle’s talents. Still, he consistently stays down to earth, exemplified by the very chill “Swingset Mosaic”, which would not be out of place on a Clams Casino
mixtape. Standout “Penetration”, however, intertwines all of his influences into something else entirely. Almost danceable, ridiculously infectious and altogether incredible, he has created a sound that would take many talented artists a career to find.
What’s perhaps even more incredible about this compilation is that it is merely a mixtape, a series of beats thrown haphazardly together by a single DJ. Whether or not Kyle eventually gets the notoriety he deserves remains to be seen, but in the meantime, he’s produced at least one exceptional mixtape, and you should be paying attention.