Peter Holslin got lost on the way
It’d be interesting to get a peek inside Shlohmo’s electronic setup and see precisely what kinds of horrible things he does to the sounds he’s working with. Are the L.A. beatmaker’s knobs all twisted, levels screaming in the red? When he uses distortion, does he settle for no less than three varieties being applied simultaneously? What is going on with all of those scorched melodies and corrosive rhythms?
The world may never know completely, and it might spoil the fun if we did. Nevertheless he’s at it again with his new song, “Emerge from Smoke.” A brooding instrumental jam, it’s a bit more cinematic than the R&B/hip-hop-oriented beats he served up on his collab EP with Jeremih, No More, from earlier this year. The track rides on an acid-bubbling synth refrain, conjuring the same tense melodics as Goblin’s score for the Italian horror flick Suspiria. Around the two-minute mark this briefly gives way to a brooding break that reminds me (in a good way) of Rob D’s “Clubbed to Death (Kurayamino Mix)” from the Matrix soundtrack. Eventually an angular, grey-streaked guitar solo comes in—at least it sounds to me like a guitar solo, if Freddy Krueger were using his metal finger blades as a slide.
The bass drum on “Emerge from Smoke” is brutally compact, and the rimshot stabs like an ice pick in a snowy cave. It’d be myopic just to marvel at all these deliciously fucked up textures without regarding the composition as a whole, though. As Shlohmo’s Henry Laufer has done before—perhaps most notably on his excellent 2011 album, Bad Vibes—here he has a way of balancing warmth with tension, drawing us in only to spring a trap and crank up the heat.