August 22, 2012
Review: Groundislava – ‘Feel Me’
Despite being part of California’s prolific Wedidit collective (alongside the likes of Shlohmo, Jonwayne and others), Jasper Patterson has forged a very singular musical path with his work as Groundislava. His production style, a blend of bit-crunched rhythms and warm, fuzzy synths, impressively mixes digital and human elements to form a soundscape that is often surprisingly sombre in mood.
New album Feel Me follows last year’s self-titled debut, and slightly tones down that release’s focus on neck-snapping beats and sawtooth basslines in favour of a more pensive approach.
Opener ‘Cider’ is all woozy synths over bubbling 808 drums, a digital-sounding tide rolling in and out behind the track, and it fast becomes clear that this is most definitely not an ode to glugging White Lightning on a park bench. Feel Me also demonstrates the fact that the young producer really knows how to go about a collaboration: ‘Suicide Mission’ alongside Baths is a stunner, all haunting falsetto and drifting synths unhurried by a rattling beat, and Houses’ eerie contribution to ‘Flooded’ has more than a hint of Gonjasufi’s ominous howl to it.
Patterson released the teaser TV Dream EP earlier in the year, and its Clive Tanaka-featuring title-track makes an appearance here too. It’s a nostalgic sounding cut, Tanaka’s vocoder-ed voice crooning a digitised, two-line love song over clacking drums and ’80s AM radio synths. ‘TV Dream’ drives home the real visual element to Patterson’s work, and it comes as no surprise to learn that his video director father, Michael, was responsible for such timeless clips as A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’ and Paula Abdul’s ‘Opposites Attract’.
Feel Me ingests genre through its own personal warped filters, before repurposing it for its own gain. Check out the twisted 2-step touches on ‘After Hours’, or the flurrying southern crunk-influenced hi-hats on ‘Cool Party’. There’s an obvious affinity with 8-bit computer game soundtrack aesthetics, from the crunched drum samples to the wobbling synth leads, but underpinning everything throughout is a sense thoughtful atmosphere.
The twin variations ‘Jasper’s Song I’ and ‘Jasper’s Song II’ share a meditative melody that’s heard from a different angle on each, while the big, brassy synths of ‘Olympia 2011’ bely Patterson’s gaming alter-ego more than most tracks here. Closer ‘Love Ribbon’, alongside vocalist Jake Weary, seems a slight afterthought, and, while not lowering the tone in any way, adds little to the release. Nevertheless, Feel Me is a remarkable work: a stunning collection of tracks that flow effortlessly out of the brain of one of the most consistent producers currently in operation.
Read this review in context over at THE 405