LA producer Shlohmo (aka Henry Laufer, he of Wedidit and Friend of Friends fame) is tough to categorize. In fact, “eclectic” is an understatement: in his live sets and prerecorded mixes, genres ranging from electronic music to film scores to indie rock to r’n’b to eight different kinds of rap to TV theme songs get matched interchangeably. Shlohmo’s work is something you can really only imagine existing in the world of the internet, where everyone curates their own personal universe of influences and obsessions. This is annoying in, say, your brony-and-football-and-Star-Trek obsessed roommate, but at the end of the day, who doesn’t want to hear a chopped-n-screwed R. Kelly over a Burial remix?
In any case, Laufer’s new EP Laid Out does not disappoint. At once ethereal and percussive, the almost-half-hour of music retains Shlohmo’s trademark pairing of rhythm with melody. (Not unlike another in-the-news artist.) The technique of stretching, warping, and re-pitching female vocals – first employed by UK garage and grime producers – is in heavy rotation on Laid Out, as Laufer dices up some unknown tune to fit his purpose. Scratchy distorted voices float above gloomy synthesizers that might have been pulled off the Miami Vice theme song and percussion straight off a Young Chop instrumental. A ghostly vocal appearance by How to Dress Well’s Tom Krell opens the record beautifully, setting a decidely interior tone.
The effect of this strange collision of genres and sounds is to create music that is both deeply personal and expansive. Listeners of electronic music will find much to enjoy, as will fans of hip-hop or sadness or really just about anything. Laid Out practically oozes emotion, from its squashed hi-hats down to its washed out pads.