Trip hop’s allure was its cryptic intimacy.
The feeling of intruding into someone’s psychic chambers, into their memories, obsessions and desires, there yet never fully articulated, shapes swirling in the shadows, breaking through the surface of consciousness like killer whales of emotion, muffled sighs and dark moods universal in their abstraction.
Of course, one can have too much of a good thing, and that’s what happened with Trip hop, turned coffeehouse and ad cliché by a myriad me-too-acts who turned its wasteland of feeling into a cookie-cutter ‘electronic music + lady (or dude, I’m looking at you JJ Johanson) singing’ formula.
It is a testament to the strength of that backlash that the T word is seldom mentioned (as if it would be an insult) when describing many contemporary acts whose music conveys the same mood of melancholy, abstracted alienation, return to the cocoon of the self in the face of a social + economic environment of multiplying complexity, and filmic aspirations.
Yet it is there, we see its imprint, and we don’t think it’s anything to be embarrassed about. Sonically, this new generation of pensive pathos-geographers draws on the millennial descendants of trip hop’s influences, dub (dubstep) and hop hop (via J Dilla, Boards of Canada’s drum OST for pseudo-scientific uncanny-land, and Juke’s voodoo spectre).
Some examples? Flying Lotus, Hyperdub’s forthcoming (and spectacular) 10.2 compilation and many of the artists therein contained, Laurel Halo. Also the protagonists of today’s post, our beloved Paco Sala.
In their new Digitalis release, ‘Put Your Hands on Me’, Paco’s Antony and Birch take us inside that psychic room, its stained-glass windows shuffling through potential use cases for this music – social media-mediated heartbreaks, Metal Gear Solid’s next theme tune, that gently suicidal night drive through conduits of neon, shot in Michael Mann-vision.
The melange of analogue flesh, cf. 1970s porn-classicist artwork, and digital layers, juke throb and multidimensional reverberations makes it timeless plus futuristic, dense plus dazzling, alien and weird plus strangely human.
Like exploring an emergent pan-human psyche brimming with strange colours, pillars of luminescence, a complex lattice of vectors describing the trajectory of holographic sirens caught in a strange loop, randomly exploding into flocks of bird-memories straight out of a William Gibson reverie.
Paco Sala – Peace Keeper
You can get ‘Put Your Hands on Me’ digital/pre-order vinyl from Digitalis.