Max Bell spent time among the wise, went through a garment renaissance.
If you listen to ’90s hip-hop, you’ll know there’s no shortage of references to Nautica, the nautical-inspired clothing brand turned street-wear du jour for hustlers, thugs, and (I’m guessing) all Wu members pre-Wu-Wear. Biggie claimed he would put “mad slugs through your Nautica.’ Last year, OC even dropped a track called “Nautica,” with its sound firmly rooted in the ’90s. But here in L.A., there’s no need for heavy Nautica jackets. Some over-priced organic coffee and a handlebar mustache and you should make it through winter just fine. And thus, to complement the “weather, weed, and women,” I suggest the warm sounds of Astronautica.
Aside from being the new slang for blazing on a boat, Astronautica is the stage name of Edrina Martinez, 21-year old producer/DJ from L.A. She’s headlined at Low End Theory, signed to Alpha Pup, and recently DJ’d CAA’s post-Grammy party.
Over the last few years, she’s quietly released music via Soundcloud and dropped a self-titled EP (below the jump) on PH2 Records. The EP essentially served as a statement of intent, in that it was more an indication of where she was headed rather than where she was content to reside. Its tracks are more ambient and atmospheric than anything else, with some glitch twists and some nice murky and muted pockets. Though, from these six songs, it’s obvious how much trap has influenced/influences her work. The best example is ‘”For You,” which gradually builds to what feels like more subdued, softer brand of trap. And really, that might be the best label for much of her catalogue.
As of late, her work has improved considerably. Her latest singles, which are set to appear on her first proper album, Replay Last Night (dropping at the end of the month via Alpha Pup), are more fully formed. More than that, they have a sound that’s more her own. While it’s clear she’s still slightly indebted to Brainfeeders like Teebs, she’s managed to create pieces built around her mellow and contemplative guitar riffs, which she primarily plays herself.
Most of the recent cuts have a similar style and structure, starting off slowly and quietly before expanding into soft and whispery trap collage of chopped vocals (they may or may not be her own), simple guitar chords, and pensively pounding percussion, or something. Though I’d say it works more than it is repetitive, redundant, duplicative, etc. “Weekends” and “Something About You” are both highly intimate tracks, with said chopped vocals a centerpiece. The former is perhaps Martinez at her most trap-inspired and the latter, either coincidentally or because of its name, actually sounds like something an early Abel Tesfaye might croon his creepy come-ons over.
But for my money and weed, it’s “Lowrider” and “Cruise” (number six on XLR8R’s “Top 20 Downloads of January“) that essentially encapsulate what I dig most about Astronautica’s sound. “Cruise” is a sunset drive down Mullholland, with a soothing guitar, a warbling vocal loop, hard drums, and a little funk beneath the surface. The former centers around a guitar riff that sounds like Cobain playing underwater, and thus has little to nothing to do with hydraulics or a cherry red ’64.
Astronautica’s upcoming official debut looks promising. At the very least, with her Soundcloud latest and Alchemist’s Yacht Rock, you should be set to hit the dispensary, roll a couple, and ride off into the Pacific from Marina Del Rey with a proper soundtrack. But if you’re left without either, Rick Ross and Christopher Cross are always solid backups.