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Posted on April 7th, 2015 (9:00 am) by Mark Philipp

Los Angeles-based electronic / hip hop producer, Shlohmo (real name Henry Laufer), has a several major releases under his belt, including his critically-lauded 2011 debut Bad Vibes, and a series of great EPs. Despite having only been releasing albums for a few years, Shlohmo has been honing his craft for over a decade, defining his productions with his melodic and energetic style. His latest release, the full-length Dark Red, indulges in its namesake and takes the producer's approach to a dark, disturbing place, giving listeners a horror movie take on instrumental hip hop.

Each and every song on Dark Red is covered in a thick layer of fear, as the various sound effects and slasher flick musicality intrude on what would otherwise be a trap-influenced instrumental rap album. Echoes, deep reverb, distorted electronics, and droning synth pervade the album, mingling with the hip hop beats in a despair-fueled party. The atmospheric elements are very well done, and definitely set this release apart from the rest of Shlohmo's library. On occasion, the producer's style gets so lost in the morose climate that it becomes difficult to tell if it's still a Shlohmo beat. “Ditch,” for example, could easily be mistaken for a long-forgotten Salem witch house track, following the same structural and sonic archetypes as the obscure internet subgenre. It's an unexpected turn for the producer, but one that he handles competently at worst, and phenomenally at best, proving his versatility.

That being said, the album could use a little more variety within itself. Dark Red flourishes when eating itself alive with a foot planted firmly on an effects pedal, but as the album goes on, it starts to wear a bit thin. The creepy vibes established in the first few tracks are no longer surprising (or all that interesting) by the end. Thankfully, this issue is somewhat rectified by the inclusion of the occasional palette cleanser, such as the high-tempo “Fading,” which acts as a perfect climax near the end of the album, just in time for Shlohmo to take us home with the cacophonous “Beams.” In addition, if it weren't for the ever-dreary instruments throughout, this album would not necessarily be anything astounding. It doesn't re-invent or revolutionize anything, and instead settles comfortably into “very good producing.” There's no dealbreaking going on here, but in the end, the album is a consistent collection of beats, with just a few bells and whistles.

If you didn't know any better, you would think Shlohmo had been producing this kind of goth-pleasing, look-over-your-shoulder music for years. He displays excellent use of the moody side of electronica, and it's hard not to hope that he continues on this path. This album is tight, polished, and for this producer, experimental and risky. It's not perfect, and it can get a little repetitive, but if you're looking for something a little different to dance (or streak) to, Dark Red is a good place to start.

Track List:

  1. Ten Days of Falling
  2. Meet Ur Maker
  3. Buried
  4. Emerge From Smoke
  5. Slow Descent
  6. Apathy (feat. D33J)
  7. Relentless
  8. Ditch
  9. Remains
  10. Fading
  11. Beams
Shlohmo - Dark Red Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

75 / 100
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