Review Summary: Dark Red sees Shlohmo immerse himself in malaise and unabashed coldness.
Shlohmo’s latest LP, Dark Red
, sounds like the last dying breath of a city being swallowed by insensitivity, danger, and everything in between. Peeling back its layers reveals a darker sense of malaise, but Shlohmo makes the most of the facade to emphasize sonic immersion over emotional gravity. For this reason, the Los Angeles-based electronic producer takes care in shuttling his muddled atmospheres with ragged percussion and grainy synthesizer leads. As a result, Shlohmo creates a solid album that is coherent, yet intentionally aloof.
houses a world that feels alive. Its tracks have definitive structures, but Shlohmo’s hand rarely interferes with the interesting moods that they cultivate. “Ditch”, for instance, reverberates with ghostly vocal samples as the beat coagulates and grows in intensity. “Slow Descent” juxtaposes a high-end synthesizer with a low-end one, while the percussion speeds up as their effect becomes more potent. Shlohmo’s influences range from trap music to drum and bass to dark ambient, but he delivers his music in a way that allocates equal appreciation for all of them. His beats are sometimes punchy, but never overacted, and his backgrounds never pull away from the central ideas across the tracks. His discipline keeps the album straightforward and focused, but it also prevents it from being truly adventurous at times.
Shlohmo does not compromise his darker aesthetic, but he sometimes fails to capitalize on it with fresh and profound musical statements. Several of the production techniques, such as echo effects, suppress the staying power of his compositions. Tracks like “Buried” and “Beams”, therefore, tend get lost in the haze. Still, the distant glimmer of his beats mesh well with Shlohmo’s obvious talents as a producer and as a builder of cold soundscapes. Most of the tracks swell within tight compositional confines, lending Dark Red
a feeling of entrapment. The slow enigma “Remains” is one of several tracks that blends nuance with repetition to a haunting extent. Its use of glass-breaking sound effects, for example, adds a jarring element of grit to an otherwise neutral electronic shade.
The album’s replay value lies in the overt struggles that occur within the tracklisting. “Fading” is one of the high points in this regard, a sonic time bomb that is placated by an unexpected series of guitar chords and piano harmonies that bring the track to a gentle stop. The airy quality of the guitar is plucked right from the Slowdive playbook, and the instrument’s inclusion fits well since it is used sparingly. Elsewhere are nods to groups like Autechre and other ‘90s IDM material, like “Emerge from Smoke” and “Meet Ur Maker”, but Shlohmo implements these styles tastefully even though they are notably derivative. Dark Red
is not as disquieting or as powerful as it strives to be, but it’s a nonetheless stimulating plunge into a chasm of worry.
Shlohmo guides his listeners through a rather bleak grouping of tracks, and he does so with a balance between ominous shades of gray and outright pessimism. His electronic passages are icy, but rich in their display. Therefore, it’s possible to interpret Dark Red
as a soundtrack to personal disintegration. And once it all ends, it’s up to you alone to put the pieces back together.
Meet Ur Maker
Emerge from Smoke
Original Post: http://re-viewsmagazine.com/shlohmo-dark-red/