Shlohmo - Dark Red

by George Kontou

If you’re the type who likes nothing more than rainy, moody and reflective days spent indoors, exploring the very darkest crevices of your own twisted mind, why not check out Shlohmo’s new LP, Dark Red?

Following the 2011 release of his debut album Bad Vibes, the man behind the music, Henry Laufer, has ironically produced something far darker. Moving away from the chilled, R&B-tinged soulful glo-fi that so characterized his debut, Dark Red sets a moody dystopian tone from the outset.

Ten Days Of Falling aptly depicts the mood, drawing you into a state of moody anxiety and self-reflection. The tinny, chiming synths sound as if they have been plucked straight out of Garageband’s harshest and most obnoxious keyboard collections, but thankfully are soon filled out with some juicy, rounded basslines and the heavily processed, reverb-laden beats that so characterise the chillwave genre. Meet Ur Maker is perfect for long night drives; the prowling and sinister bass crescendo into a complex amalgam of intertwining melodies.

Similarly brooding, Emerge From Smoke is an album highlight. Distorted arpeggio melodies set the pace as the song soars into an imposing, metal-influenced thunderstorm of a track that could come straight out of one of Linkin Park’s more recent works. It is tracks such as these that will so perfectly suit Shlohmo’s new live set-up, which he is currently touring with for the first time. The Linkin Park comparison is one that holds true throughout – whilst the album remains true to its glo-fi electronic roots, it is far darker than its counterparts. Despite sharing beats with the likes of Baths, Yung Gud, Lapalux and xxyyxx, Laufer flips down the minor switch on this lyric-less LP. A number of tracks flirt (if such a word can be used for such a miserable album) with DrumNBass elements, most notably the track Beams, which closes the album in a frenzy of frenetic and focused beats.

Occasionally, a positive moment surfaces, leaving the listener feeling like Captain Ahab catching a rare glimpse of Moby Dick (apologies - English revision takes its toll). One such moment is at the start of Remains, a chiming track vaguely reminiscent of Bonobo’s Emkay, and in the same vein as Exeter’s own produce, Delmer Darion. It doesn’t hang about, however, diving back down into the depths of Laufer’s sinister thought process, a distorted mangle of moody introspect.

Shlohmo’s new album sits in vast juxtaposition to his debut. Whilst a number of tracks from Bad Vibes such as Trapped In A Burning House (cheery, you can tell) match the stormy mood of his newer music, Dark Red is a world away from the positively bubbly, rounded glo-fi of his earlier work. Keep Dark Red on while you’re working, but make sure your mind doesn’t wander too far, Shlohmo might take it to places you’d rather not go. Perfect for fans of xxyyxx, Mount Kimbie, Baths, Nosaj Thing, and Lapalux.