Propapanda – “The Big Tree (Propapanda Bootleg)”

A pleasant track that twists up the mellower side of drum and bass with an early ‘10s French reggae hit (Stand High Patrol’s “The Big Tree”). The breaks here are almost decorative rather than propulsive, so it feels aimed more at lounging back with a blunt than frantic dancefloor detonation, but that’s fine by me – I like my drum and bass on the chilled-out side these days. 

Some solid synth work here for sure, especially in the low end. And at just under four minutes, this one is short and sweet – honestly, it could have easily gone on another three minutes before I got bored. 

The Golden Shadow – “Worlds Within”

The golden age of downtempo may be in the rearview mirror, but it casts a long shadow, and tracks like “World Within” prove it. Deeply inspired by the prime era of “back to mine” compilations, this is a super chill and jazzy slice of laidback breaks, upright bass, piano and an ephemeral vocal line. There’s also a nice synth line that comes in about halfway thru. 

This would have fit perfectly on one of those comps full of  Thievery Corporation and Kruder and Dorfmeister tracks, and if you’re not old enough to remember those, you can think of it as lofi beats to come down to.

Skysonix x socool – “Morning Frost”

Well, would you look at that? Another downtempo track, this one leaning into drum and bass! We got a theme going! This one turns the chill up to MAXIMUM and the production to minimum, with some minimal breaks hung with shards of synths doing most of the work. About halfway thru the breaks kick up a notch (tho still chill) and some nice strings float in to pretty things up. 

Great music for drifting off to, or unwinding after a long day perhaps. Heck, pair it with the other two tracks above and we’re a quarter of a way thru a throwback mix that would have done the Back to Mine series proud.

Dace Merryweather – “Lost It All to a Fatal Glitch”

A driving rock song with a touch of psychedelia covering that most heart rending of technological snafus – losing everything you’re working on to a crash. Buzzing guitars and a vocal that would have seemed at home on some early ‘70s garage psych track are the twin engines powering this song, but the real treat is the bridge’s brooding #psychedelic guitar riff that comes in just over halfway thru.

Paul Griffin – “Fat Wren” & “Caught”

A pair of fairly different tracks show two different but complementary sides of Paul Griffin’s work. “Fat Wren” returns us to our downtempo theme, but with a track that’s a fair bit weirder (in a good way) than that genre usually gets. Jazzy and swinging, with a flute-like synth line and some pretty arpeggios draped over upright bass and breaks. “Caught” is a spacey ambient track with the expected hypnotic arpeggios and low end drones – easy to get lost in, if you so desire. Tune in, turn on, space out.

Kapok Itch – Headaches

A concept album about headaches based on using and abusing an Aphex Twin-created instrument? Spicy! This one’s for the adventurous listeners as most of this abandons any pretense of standard musical structures or recognizable instrumentation in favor of dark, intense and at times abrasive sound sculpting. Yeah, you’ll hear a piano or a recognizable human voice here and there, but in this context the familiar timbres seem all the more strange.

The whole EP seems intent on blurring the lines between sound design and composition, leading to some fascinating juxtapositions of sound and some really creepy moods. Definitely worth a listen if you like it weird. (I like it weird.)

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