February 7, 2012

Jonah Bromwich’s favorite vacation spot is the Isle of Wight.

There’s only so much concrete meaning that we can infer from beatmakers’ music. Without lyrics acting as signposts, all we have to go on is tempo, mood and the occasional sample. Not much really.

That’s what makes it so fun when a producer like Shlohmo drops a few more clues to puzzle over. His excellent new Vacation EP plays the meaning game extremely well. At first, the title seems like a total misnomer. These aren’t sunny sounds; in fact, every song prominently features the sound of dripping water. So it’s great when Henry Laufer gives a nod to a different Shlohmo with the Rothian punchline serving as an apt title for the third and last track: “Rained the Whole Time.”

Despite the constant presence of precipitation, these sounds aren’t the depressing ones you might expect to hear f someone’s trip down to the shore got rained out. First track, “The Way U Do,” after twenty seconds of brightness, quickly gives in to a droning lament, the edges blurred out. It looks like the clouds didn’t take very much time to move in.  Soon enough, a new sound joins that buzzing sadness, as a vocal note and a guitar riff meld into one another and extend skyward. The song runs down with these two elements, the lament and the hymn firmly bouncing off one another; two voices, one high, one low, and both equally soulful.

“Wen Uuu” works within that template, giving more credence to the theory that there are two people on this vacation. Vocal samples give a few more clues as to what’s going on. The back and forth call, surrounded by looped strings and perfectly placed drum taps goes, “Nobody knows…you love me.” It’s a sad note to be sure, but the song is so astoundingly pretty that it emphasizes the romance between these isolated lovers.

And then there’s “Rained the Whole Time,” the most kinetic and sexy of the three tracks. The voice here is male, and while there’s a couple of sighs and a few hums, the vocals are hushed enough to suggest something intimate. There’s a muted suggestion here, (and of course it’s subtle, and could be imagined, but there’s the beauty of music without words, that it allows you to take your own meaning) that it might not be such a bad thing that it rained the whole time. If a vacation is a getaway, it doesn’t take much more than a room and someone you love to fulfill the promise of escape.

Places & Kings

Beat Trap: The Bad Vibes of Shlohmo

Sach O: Burial – “Shell of Light” (Shlohmo Remix)


Shlohmo – wen uuu by FoFMusic

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