As Bill Hicks quite rightly proclaimed, “if you don’t believe that drugs did anything good for us, do me one small favour; go home tonight OK, take all your albums and tapes and burn them, because you know all those musicians that have enhanced your lives throughout the years? Well, they were real fucking high on drugs“. Today’s recommendation wallow in a genre that sounds like the musical embodiment of being stoned. Sadly though this genre is more often awash with time wasters. Lots of these protagonists utilise common elements, often associated with the genre fantastically pilloried by Hipster Runoff as ‘chill wave’, with its lo-fi fuzz and echoing vocals, often self-indulgent and wallowing in the same sofa-bound manner of its stoned teen creators. Its all a bit lazy, slightly irritating if the listener isn’t stoned too, and it can be relentlessly boring. However, every now and again a group turn up and deliver tunes that could only have been crafted with their brains very much in tact. Today we bring you an example of how to do glo-fi properly.
Yourself In Peace are a duo, Westley Ulit (Drums/Synth) and Justin Corral (Vocals/Guitar), who met at University in LA. They claim to have emerged earlier in 2012 after a bunch of hazy nights spontaneously jamming and have subsequently set about devising their self-titled debut EP, aimed at all the wondering escapists out there. Self-released, it arrived on May 12th and is a six-track lesson in how to make accomplished lo-fi shoegaze. Of course this means that there is all the usual loose strings, slowed beats and sonic textures that you would associate with this breed of music, but they punctuate it all brilliantly with just enough well-placed tweaks and sharp edges to break through all the mist in the room. Beats occasionally hip hop, electronics fizz and swirl above it all, and the vocals carry sweet melodies throughout, something this over-stoned genre often forgets.
Take the tune, In Transit. It has summered guitaring and a beat that carries real momentum all the way through. Since when did glo-fi have momentum? It has a lifting, rounded melody, almost Lemon Jelly-esque in it’s child-friendly-ness, but the magic is found in how they fuse it with the echoes and pedal distortion. As we said, this is a master-class in always keeping one eye on the song. Float downstream by all means, but know that you are at the very least still travelling somewhere. The same skills are applied to the song, The Slavic Soul, which also sits at the centre of the EP, almost giving the six songs a tidy architectural peak in its design. Once again there’s a dreamlike quality to it, but it’s a good dream, a great dream, in fact you won’t want to wake up from it. Hooks and well-placed breaks pause throughout but it fills out after two minutes to a satisfying creamy centre, as Corral delicately lays on his vocals in a topping reminiscent of Canada’s Freedom Or Death.
The EPs opener is a great introduction to their sound, with the guitars set to maximum fuzz and the beats and claps driving from the outset, once again giving a relieving penetrative element to what is an otherwise intangible song. Watch You Breathe could almost be a continuation of the opener, to a point where you’d be forgiven if you had to check if the the EP has moved onto a second song or not – especially if you were stoned whilst listening to it – but it is still crafted with sublime talent. We’re not confirming that these guys were stoned when writing this EP – we honestly have no actual idea – although they are young and living in Los Angeles, (so what are the chances?), but more significantly the signs are there if you just listen to the EP all the way through. What you will find with the last two tracks, Opaque and Expo, is a couple of tunes that slowly meander off the end in precisely the same way that your sofa-welded, half-baked friends begin a story only to conclude it by stating that they can’t remember what it was they wanted to say. That’s not to suggest that this duo are short of ideas, the EP is honestly marvellous throughout, but it has a distracted closing to it that can surely only come from the weed really kicking in.
The EP is available for free right now on their Bandcamp, so if you enjoy your music in the reclined position and are happy to indulge yourself in some relaxing distractions, then we strongly suggest you head there immediately. Whether you’re stoned out of your box, or entirely clear-headed, there’s plenty on offer here to adore. It never loses the listener, or feels like a chill wave tranquilliser. This is not music to fall asleep to, quite the opposite, as it’s peaks and tweaks keep you interested. Ultimately this is understated music to unwind to, so you should feel the tension flow out of you as you smoothly travel through it’s six songs, like a massage for the mind. What is music for if not for this? By writing a debut piece of work that is consistently interesting and one that avoids the usual dulled pitfalls of it’s genre, they should be praised. At its heart music is escapism, its for the moments in life when you need to step off, its for when you actually have the time and its ultimately there to make you feel good. Whether this duo have had to expand their minds to hit these heights, or whether they’re simply a couple of clean cut talents, this EP has elevated glo-fi as high as it has ever been. (MB)
YOURSELF IN PEACE – THE SLAVIC SOUL
YOURSELF IN PEACE – IN TRANSIT