In the two years since Shlohmo’s debut full-length, Bad Vibes, the Los Angeles native has gradually shifted from Brainfeeder-style beats toward the soulful sounds of post-dubstep. The result of Shlohmo’s ongoing appreciation for R&B, Laid Out is a melodic sub-bass endeavor. James Blake comparisons are unavoidable on opening track “Don’t Say No” (featuring How to Dress Well), but the EP’s five tracks draw as much from the West Coast bass culture and early dubstep as it does from today’s crop of UK-based crooners.
The emphasis for Shlohmo is no longer on breaking beats to create space, but how he can manipulate distorted vocals and a rhythmic midline around an ever-present deep bass rattle. Introduced on “Don’t Say No” and used extensively throughout the psych-trance ambiance of “Put It”, Shlohmo has made a production switch to trap-inspired hi-hat rolls. Whereas artists like Baauer and Flosstradamus have blown up by chop-and-screwing club bangers, Shlohmo intricately uses trap’s pervasive qualities to syncopate hazy bedroom productions. The whispers of “Out of Hand” arrive from an unintelligible void, but their tones when set atop an elongated bassline transform sub-frequencies into spine-tingling chills.
This digitized emotion pours through the purely instrumental “Without”. Borrowing heavily from early blues rock, the track seems to arrive from an improbable collaboration between Lunice, Eric Clapton, and Burial. Given trap’s current spike in popularity, it is promising to hear where artists are capable of pushing the genre.
Already garnering live support from fellow SoCal electronic artists, Laid Out is the work of an artist capable of adapting to new techniques without succumbing to label limitations — one of the inalienable freedoms established with his own Wedidit imprint.
Essential Tracks: “Out of Hand”, “Without”