Review: Shlohmo – Vacation

Since the release of his debut album Shlomoshun a couple years ago, LA’s Henry Laufer, aka Shlohmo, has demonstrated a seemingly infinite reservoir of creative inspiration, allowing him to maintain his incumbency as a leading figure in electronic music without becoming too intrinsically tied with any particular genre. His constant artistic evolution thrust him to new heights last year with the stunning and critically-acclaimed Bad Vibes, an album that took listeners by surprise with its subtlety, restraint, and proclivity for sound design over “beatmaking.” On his new “Vacation” EP, released yesterday on Friends of Friends, Laufer presents three refined, compelling tracks that draw from his signature sounds while continuing to expand into new, unexpected territory.

On opening track “The Way U Do,” Laufer molds a soundscape that strikes an emotional chord of wistful nostalgia. A tidy rhythm – nodding to both footwork and trap – is overtaken by soft, textural synth tones, the sonic equivalent of a moss-covered tree. Laufer interrupts this lush, tranquil atmosphere with urgent outbursts from a vocal sample that’s been distorted, vocoded, and otherwise processed into a heart-wrenching melody, carrying with it repressed memories of pain and regret. “Wen Uuu” is perhaps a more intriguing production right off the bat, due to the various metallic percussion sounds sequenced into a groove that’s fluid and steady but nudged just slightly off-center. But the track is also noticeably mellower and more repetitive than the previous one, suspended in an indefinite limbo where breathy vocal fragments mosey aimlessly about for no other reason than to pass the time.

Closing track “Rained The Whole Time” evokes a fleeting, slippery nostalgia, like feeling the warmth of your happiest memories without being able to remember any of the details. Neatly snipped percussive fragments create a sort of hypnotic shuffle, over which a syrupy guitar loop and soothing synth textures work together to lull you into a peaceful, enlightened state of relaxation. This track aligns more with the stylistic tendencies on Bad Vibes, but it works remarkably well with the other two tracks on this EP. Friends of Friends kept tight-lipped about audio clips, but you can stream “Wen Uuu” in its entirety below and pick up a digital copy of the Vacation EP from your favorite online shop. Also take note that you can pre-order an expanded digital copy from FoF’s Bandcamp that includes remixes from Airhead, Salva, and Nicolas Jaar.

Shlohmo – wen uuu by FoFMusic

Shlohmo – Vacation EP (Friends of Friends) is out now digitally and on vinyl in March

Sam Billetdeaux