Review Summary: Beats echoed through a fog...
Anthony Zavala, best known as the brains behind Dark Time Sunshine’s progressive psych influenced hip-hop beats, channels the group’s latest album ,ANX
, in his solo debut album Fantasmas
. Coming as a possible surprise to fans of Dark Time Sunshine, Fantasmas
is a house record at heart. Elements of techno, downtempo, and garage are the tools the Zavala utilizes to create a soundscape steeped in his signature style, complete with his intricately layered synths and darkly moody atmosphere. This atmosphere, ripped right from ANX’s
theme of anxiety is prevalent throughout Fantasmas’
runtime and gives the album a unique flavor. That’s not to say Fantasmas
is especially “dark”, but a tense spirit hides behind these groovy drums.
In a way, Fantasmas
could be seen as cathartic for Zavala. Having done little work outside of Dark Time Sunshine since 2010, the man finally was able to explore and refine the influences of his hip-hop beats into full-fledged songs. The inspired opening to “Protection Cloak” is particularly strong with UKG and melts perfectly into the syncopated drums before the hazy, swirling electronics carry the song through its runtime. The inherently repetitive nature of the 4/4 beats serve as a powerful hypnotic catalyst for Zavala’s dense arrangements, and honestly in tandem they hold the listener’s attention in a way most producers could only hope for. Fortunately, Fantasmas
isn’t completely devoid of DTS influence, as songs like “The IFS” and “The INS” have such a striking resemblance to the beats from ANX
at points you could almost name the song it’s taken from (I couldn’t find them but I swear...).
After 15 years of cultivating his unique sound, Zavala has created an impressive debut in Fantasmas
. While trite comparisons to Burial or even last year’s 99.9%
by Kaytranada could probably be made, the mesmeric soundscapes on presentation here are refined enough and novel enough to stand on their own. Every experiment, including “Floats Like Empty” which boasts a sound so thick and dreamlike Ambien was probably involved, feels warmly familiar to old fans of the man’s work yet simultaneously so different. Clamors for a new DTS album by some in the hip-hop underground probably won’t be going away anytime soon, but let’s be honest, the beats carried that project. And with Fantasmas
, Zavala’s decision on injecting house music into his productions has culminated into a fantastic electronic record and one that shouldn’t be missed.