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Ben Grenrock is in the market for a new Airliner.
Like each of the artists on the bill for Low End Theory’s final beat scene bacchanal this past August, Tsuruda was included to represent a specific chapter in the story of L.A.’s influential, genre-breeding club night: the next one. TOKiMONSTA held it down for Low End’s first generation of innovative producers, Tyler the Creator was the ambassador for all the young rappers who got their first big break at LET, the Glitch Mob represented the club night’s IDM wing, and Taylor McFerrin was the soulful example of the jazz and jazz-inflected sounds that would often break up the procession of laptops across the Airliner’s stage.
Tsuruda was there to show that the movement Low End Theory started wouldn’t die with the beloved event; the movement would live on in the raw creativity of an ascendant generation of bass-loving, experimental beat makers who grew up as LET admirers and attendees. That’s a heavy mantle to bear, but as Tsuruda’s new record Internet Slaps Vol.2 demonstrates, it’s one that he’s more than capable of carrying into the future.
Released independently on January 19th, Internet Slaps Vol.2 holds nothing back, unleashing raw subharmonic fury swaddled in the meticulous sound design that has become one of the L.A.-based, Salt Lake City-bred producer’s calling cards. As the record’s name suggests, it’s a compilation of loosies that fans on SoundCloud have been spent the last year or so clamoring to download, packaged alongside a sizable chunk of unreleased tracks. Yet even though Internet Slaps Vol.2 may not have been designed as a planned and plotted album, its excellent pacing and the cohesive aesthetic its songs share make it feel like so much more than a bunch of B-sides.
Across a shadowy spectrum of bass-centric genres Tsuruda infuses Internet Slaps with a dynamic push and pull between sludge and sparkle, a dance of light and dark that plays out on an expansive stage of sound, stretching from ultra low to brilliantly high frequencies. Two of the record’s most visceral “slaps”—dubstep-rooted “Devilman,” which is built around Japanese raps sampled from the Netflix anime Devilman Crybaby and “Ode to Losco,” a maelstrom of juke, trap, and digital madness—both feature seemless transitions from ludicrously heavy sections to airy reprieves, allowing the listener to come up for breath at just the right, unexpected moment. Other cuts like “TS 146,” or “Build A House” feature clever sections that put ethereal shimmer and bone-busting drums in direct conversation with each other.
The sonic variety Tsuruda employs within a given song extends to the album as a whole, doubling down on the producer’s excellent sense for balance and showcasing his dexterity. “Apples” is a swaggering hip-hop beat through and through; “Jeffeson Park” delivers a megaton payload of halftime grime; bouncy house track, “Horchata” fits surprisingly well sandwiched between the brutal duo of “Devilman” and “TS 146.” As punishing as Internet Slaps Vol.2 often is, Tsuruda’s dedication to keeping his compositions diverse, both internally and collectively, negates the sense that the producer is just bludgeoning you over the head song after song. It keeps the album from stagnating and provides contrast that allows the heavy parts to hit as hard as intended.
None of this should come as a surprise to Tsuruda’s fans. Each of his releases from 2014’s drumsand to 2017’s Move to last year’s Unlimited Data have been impressive, challenging, and above all fun. Internet Slaps Vol.2 is a fitting entry into the prolific producer’s catalog and one that shows him to be a generational talent in the world of beats and bass.