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Posted on November 6th, 2013 (9:00 am) by Ben Welton

Classy is the only way to describe Elsewhere, the latest bit of digital hot wax from the California kid known as Insightful. As handsome as Insightful is, Elsewhere is even more handsome with its rich textures and its sharp, but thoroughly laid back vibe. “Too cool for school” might get bandied about with this record, but Elsewhere seems a little too serious to be merely labeled as cool guy posturing. Clearly, Insightful has something to say, and that something is said instrumentally in twelve tracks.

Picture this: you’re in the woods on a sunny day. You’re dressed well and you are spending this sylvan escape with what they call a “dime piece.” Be it a man, woman, or Schnoodle, you and your partner look damn good. Maybe you two talk about poetry, or maybe you two talk about the pros and cons of a scatological diet, but all the same it’s enlightening. There’s music between you two and it’s calm and pleasing. Well, in a nutshell, that’s the sound of Elsewhere—a buttery, smooth LP that is pretty much guaranteed to make you feel like an American Apparel model. Oh, how sexy.

From the cover (which I have labeled as Hipster with Branches, or better yet, Super Sweet Gandalf) to the final track, Elsewhere exudes a smirking confidence in its stripped-down ambiance. While there is not much contrast here or anything else that would've given Edmund Burke the vapors, Elsewhere still manages to keep its sails gleaming despite the utter lack of trade winds.

Starting off, “Tree Level” introduces its audience to the smooth jazz meets trip-hop meets baby makin’ psychedelia sound that enfolds all around Insightful. “Tree Level” has that syrupy slow jam vibe that so many Saturday nights like, and while the synth does get a little overbearing at one point, “Tree Level” succeeds as a song that’s all about the fun between music sheets. “Liberate Your Luv,” the record’s second track, is similar to its predecessor, although “Liberate Your Luv” has a decidedly more hip-hop vibe. Bass-heavy and silky, “Liberate Your Luv” again shows that Insightful is in the right mind for creating exquisitely experimental instrumentals.

While most of Elsewhere is in the capable hands of Insightful, the record’s two best tracks are collaborations. On the first occasion, Insightful teams up with Kimberly Lola on a strain entitled “Feel.” Although Lola’s contribution amounts to little more than a few moans and repetitions of “feel,” her feminine touch makes “Feel,” an otherwise pedestrian tune, into a slightly mournful meditation on the trickiness of human emotions. On the second collaboration, another delicate set of pipes helps to take Elsewhere beyond its rather circumscribed boundaries. These vocal chords, which belong to Jessica Cooke, are particularly beautiful, and it is this beauty that gives “She Swoons” that sought-after Sade Adu feel.

Beyond these collaborations, the other standout tracks on this record include the eerie “I Suck At You” and the 1970s-esque “Sour.” While “Sour” sounds like straight-up porno music, “I Suck At You,” with its plodding synth bass and wavy, echoing vocals, has that unique haunting feel that only electronic musicians seem capable of capturing. That said, “I Suck At You” comes too close to TV On The Radio for comfort, while “How u Do” has all the hallmarks of James Pants.

By the time that “Hindsight” comes around, a keyed-in listener should have already figured out that Elsewhere is more than just a serviceable recording made for the purposes of easy listening. Yes, Elsewhere is easy to listen to, but at the same time Elsewhere, with its fulfilling soundscape and breezy cool character, is decidedly younger and hipper than most things that get banished to the easy listening recycle bin. Besides this, the unretrofied sensuality of this full-length can melt any heart. And although this record is essentially one long piece of music (again, there’s little deviation here), Insightful’s latest is produced with quality and pronounced with love. How you can you hate that?

Track List:
1. Tree Level
2. Liberate Your Luv
3. Stepping Over Hearts
4. Translations
5. Backwards
6. Feel Ft. Kimberly Lola
7. Sour
8. How u Do
9. I Suck At You
10. She Swoons Ft. Jessica Cooke
11. Hindsight
12. Lips

Insightful's latest studio release
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

72 / 100
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