Monday, August 2, 2010

The Letterbox Project

And Everything Feels so Sublime (Self Released, 07.2010)

For: Washed Out, ARP, Holy Ghost!

Byline: A huuuugee step forward by a talented, young electronic artist.

I honestly did not see this coming. Tyler Bate's last album, Memory Static, while endlessly listenable, was easily tied to the burgeoning chillwave genre of 2009-2010. Almost too easily. And Everything Feels so Sublime, approaches the genre with a similar toolset: submerged, chopped percussion, keyed-up vocal samples, perennial focus on nostalgia, childhood, and summer, and a relaxed grip on composition that allow his tracks to meander into a sun-streaked beach photo. While the first half of the album lives up to most of the characteristics mentioned above, there are some moments of pure brilliance on this record where Bate's strikes out on his own, expanding, stretching, and generally improving every aspect of his chillwave repertoire. Sublime samples freely from a broad range of sub-genres of dance music incorporating Balearic and downtempo grooves into his underwater soundscape.. Bate's palette sounds infinitely deeper, with much more attention paid to glorious vocal melodies and hidden sub-grooves hidden beneath the de-throned percussion-as-king of Memory Static. Even on tracks like "Sunday Dreamer", whose soulful hook and postivist-lyrics are tied closely to a number of artists trying to recreate Person Pitch, sound remarkably deep with a number of ridiculously well placed vocal samples running deep beneath the track's tranquil surface.

The last half of the album is what kills me. Endlessly blissed out, Bate's mostly wordless compositions warp his sun-drenched synths and percussion samples through the fractured scanning lines of the VHS jilting, distorting, and occasionally submerging the California sunset in closing titles of a taped California Dreams rerun. The image retains some of the same pastoral scenery but is put through a heavy filter of time-defining modifiers. Seriously, the marching-band drums slowly fading into the heralding synth lines on "Learning Curve"....I could live in that moment forever. This is a remarkable leap forward for a young TOME favorite.

Ryan H.

Stream And Everything Feels So Sublime Here

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