Release Date: Aug 9, 2011
Record label: Friends of Friends
Shlohmo's early productions were dense, and his overstuffed work usually ended up getting lost in a sea of similarly abstract hip-hop peers. It was inescapably amateurish—lo-fi and underdeveloped, and prone to bouts of attention deficit disorder—yet charming all the same. This year, however, when Henry Laufer re-appeared on adopted home Friends of Friends with the EP Places, all his best attributes were sewn tightly into a single conceptual template.
Unlike fellow Angeleno beat dudes Matthewdavid and Flying Lotus, sloughing through warped cassingle gunk and Silly String webs of compacted funk, Shlohmo’s productions are wonky without ever being washed out. The 14 tracks that make up the 21-year-old’s debut confidently segue from delicate, shuffling reveries, smeared rhythms contrasting with laptop tingle and menthol coos into full-blown drone-outs. Gently strumming crispy chords or plucking glassy notes from his guitar, Shlohmo (like England’s Mount Kimbie) finds fleeting moments of intimacy amid the bustle of urban life.
Establishing a sonic personality without lyrical assistance or some unique personal backstory can be tricky, especially when you're in the middle of a room crowded with your peers. The space in question is the one with a "for fans of Flying Lotus" sign posted over the door, and there hasn't been a ton of vacancy in there lately. Those who've broken out have done so by tweaking the sonic imprint of decaying beats and melting analog chords until they come across as distinctly tactile things, humid and slippery, blown-out and elastic.
Bad Vibes is something of an opus for Shlohmo—this is not a slapped-together, looped-beat piece, the product of a week of work and a few late nights amped on Red Bull and Hot Pockets working on Logic. In fact, this album possess a natural, organic quality that makes it difficult to imagine a DAW ever touching it. That said, this is electronic music through and through, and the synthesis of evolving, restless beats to the suffocating air of desperation is a significant accomplishment on Shlohmo’s part.Henry Laufer, aka Shlohmo, has crafted something pretty great here.