For me, Phutureprimitive was a gateway artist. I first really got into electronic music through the heavy dance scene of Miami, Florida – home of Ultra Music Festival and a thousand of the most exclusive clubs America has to offer. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of who’s dropping the latest electro-dubstep-moombah-house tracks in such an atmosphere. I soon realized, however, that such a fast-paced market was lacking two main characteristics: artistic individuality and longevity. All the songs sound the same, and each week there’s a new hit record to replace the last one. And yes, of course there are exceptions (Savant and GRiZ, to name a few), just as there are in any situation. But the point here is that there’s a big difference between a half-heartedly embellished four-on-the-floor beat, created for the sake of keeping the nightclubs packed, and inspired, musically creative electronic music. It was through this quest for more meaningful artistic vision that I came across Phutureprimitive for the first time.
Here is an artist who has demonstrated an incredible knack for producing high quality, high fidelity electronic music that remains authentic in the face of emotionless banality. “Lush melodies drift across intricate rhythms, groove-heavy beats and warm, fuzzy bass lines. Often exploring a dark and dense palette, his music also manages to convey a sense of tranquility and beauty, engaging the listener into hypnotic movement and often escalating toward a full kinetic experience.”
GRiZ released his debut album, Mad Liberation, less than a week ago, but it’s already making huge waves in the electronica community. In lieu of joining the horde of current EDM artists releasing fairly straightforward house music day after day, GRiZ has taken a more alternative approach to creating his unique brand of electronica. He has combined the heavy sub-bass tendencies of modern dubstep with a medley of other styles, including jazz, funk, and hip hop. The 21-year-old producer describes his music as “electro soul” and “future funk,” titles which, upon listening to Mad Liberation, seem to be quite accurate.
I would first like to quote GRiZ’s own description of the album, as there is certainly no individual more qualified to address it than he:
This collection of noise – to me – became an album, a sound in a whole, an idea free from limits of thought and more an idea of the heart and soul. Mad Liberation is a piece of me that is representative of my past, breathes life into my present, and is a taste of the future.
As rave culture began to take hold moving into the early 1990s, downtempo electronica, or chill-out music, as it is sometimes called, originated as a calmer alternative. With DJs playing high energy sets for hours at a time, special “chill rooms” were set aside at clubs for ravers to relax and take a break from the constant bombardment of loud music and sweaty bodies. Ambient electronic music was played in these rooms as a contrast to its more frenetic counterparts, and a culture revolving around such music began to slowly emerge. Artists started to expand the boundaries of such a genre out in many different directions over the next two decades, and today we acknowledge a wide assortment of styles as falling under the label of “downtempo.” One such subgenre is trip hop, an experimental style that draws influence predominantly from ambient electronica, hip hop, R&B, jazz, and house music.
Enter Doug Appling, more commonly known by his stage name Emancipator. In 2006, he released his debut album, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, as a trip hop producer. Among other things, this album represents this blog’s first endeavor into downtempo, chill music, and I feel assured that it will not disappoint. Emancipator maintains a consistent sound throughout the course of the fourteen tracks on Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, yet it never becomes dull. At minimum, the music can fade into the background whilst your mind is elsewhere, however at its best it can provide a remarkably thought-provoking experience – the kind that sets the stage for significant personal introspection – while relaxing the mind and allowing tranquility to seep through your body and soul.