Shlohmo’s ‘Dark Red:’ A Track by Track Review

Julian Hochmuth ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer


  • Ten Days of Falling
    • This song is weird. Its main melodic element is a high pitched screeching synth surrounded by other synthetic elements and a wood block sounding drum. It is full of strange sounds and truly unique production. It sets the tone for the album very well. With that said, it might be a little to strange for some people’s taste. If you have a short attention span, please give the rest of the album a shot. It will be worth it.
  • Meetur maker
    • Shlohmo does a really great job of combining influences from different genres to create really unique songs. “Meet ur Maker” is an example of this. It has a thick watery sounding baseline which is pretty a pretty standard staple of the Shlohmo sound, but with percussion rhythms that draw a lot of influence from fast paced electronic genres like break beat and drum and bass. The choice of percussion is really interesting because he uses a lot of sounds that are extremely commonplace in trap, a genre of hip hop originating in Atlanta. The accented snare and 808 high hats help allude to this producers heavy hip hop influence that he is clearly paying homage to with this song.
  • Buried
    • This song starts out with an ominous grumbly synth sound reminiscent of a horror movie trailer overplayed with a loop of white noise. Eventually a more pleasant, soft lead synth is introduced into the mix along with a psych rock-esq guitar riff in the background. Eventually the whole stereo field is filled with a luscious guitar riff and distorted lead elements. Accompanied with the closed high hat on the eighth notes, a good amount of tension is built until some drums finally come in. A lush reverberous snare is accented creatively to give almost a prog rock feel to the song that is really innovative. There is a short reprise with a more minimal drum break to give a breathing point from the intense drums. Soon, the song brings back the full drum kit and all the drums in full force concluding in a driving built similar to those you would find sub genres of metal such as doom. It song has an almost apocalyptic essence to it that is really tasteful without being overbearing.
  • Emerge From Smoke
    • Gut reaction. Right off the bat. This song is attention grabbing. Between the strange distorted synths and flowing, modulated baseline, it certainly grabbed me by the ears quickly. The drums are minimalistic and in a half time pattern similar to dubstep, but with more creative rhythmic accents. Around a minute and a half in all the drums fade out and allow for a pleasant melodic break before a heavily distorted kick drum disrupts the peace. Eventually a harsh, almost pained synth lead is introduced that is as jarring as it is emotionally driven. The melody is evocative of a struggle or even pain that took time to get over. It is clear that this song was written with a specific subject in mind. Without lyrics though, it would be difficult to determine the exact motivation behind the composition. The song closes with a similar synth lead to the one that opened the song and ends with a strange, distorted amp feedback that left me wondering what was next.
  • Slow Descent
    • The song opens with a pleasant synth pluck sound that almost sounds like a toy piano. It is accompanied by a driving kick that slowly fades in and light accented high hat elements. Eventually a full ensemble of drum sounds is introduced to fill the rhythmic space that was empty in the intro. The drums slowly start to get more and more complex and build in intensity, reminding me of some of the types of drum breaks artists like Venetian Snares are known for. The song eventually reaches a climax of intensity and starts back where it began and starts a similar build all over again. I really like the connotation of the name juxtaposed with the build of the song. It’s a really powerful combination. The building intensity is very much the opposite of a slow decent, but could be interpreted as a slow decent into insanity or even confusion or chaos. This song really made me think.
  • Apathy
    • This is my favorite song on the album so far. It opens with a thick bass sound and atmospheric lead. It is driven around that same lead loop for the majority of the song and slowly builds in intensity, adding elements slowly over time until distorted, spacious vocal sampling is introduced. The lack of consonants in the vocal chops gives it a very spooky vibe. The vocals become the looping element as the song begins to build again increasing in complexity and intensity using a lot of different types of drum sounds and synth elements including a bassy kick similar to the famous Lex Luthar kick and many assorted hip hop percussion elements. Eventually, a breathing point in the song is reached when most of the complexity disappears and allows the bass and vocal to shine through. The song ends with a really pleasant synth arpeggio and a new vocal melody that gives a little variation to the track. The droning repetition of the synth lead and eventually the vocal evoke the feeling of apathy in a very concrete way. I like this song probably the most because despite its connotation given the production and name, it still has a very hopeful end to the song because of the changing vocal melody and introduction of the major scaled arpeggio.
  • Relentless
    • This song features some really nice atmospheric vocal sampling and clean drum production. This song has the closest thing that resembles a traditional “drop.” It has a minimal build that creates some tension, but is made more poignant by the force of the drop. The drop features vocal sampling, heavy drums, and intricate drum patterns. The second half of the drum is much more dialed down and features what sounds like a sampled and reprocessed citar. The section following included a bottle mashing as a percussive sound effect as well as really well placed drum accents. A spacious melody drives the emotion of the piece in the background and helps keep the song moving in this section. Eventually the drums cut out and just leave the melody to sit by itself. This song is one of the more simple ones, but makes up for it with its emotionally driven vocal sampling and melancholy melodies.
  • Ditch
    • This is definitely my new favorite. It starts out with Shlohmo’s signature bass sound, overlaid with low pitched vocal samples, minimal percussion elements, and melodic accents to fill the empty space. The drum build is rich and leads perfectly into the drum section which features toms that sound like they are sampled from some kind of Yamaha keyboard. Its a very nostalgic sounding drum choice for producers and music nerds a like. The reverb on the kick in the intro is tasteful and not overwhelming and leads into the drop perfectly.
  • Remains
    • The intro of this song is incredible. It starts out with what sounds like tuned pots and pans hitting together making beautiful distorted melodies. They fluctuate in volume really gently and create a very inviting intro to the song. Eventually a layered snap sample is introduced as a marker for the sluggish time signature. This is the shortest song on the album by far and is a well placed break from the five minute plus songs that there are a few of on this album. The drums feature an incredibly wide variety of pitches and textures, even features a broken glass sound similar to that from Relentless. This song is really inspiring in lots of ways and definitely acts as a nice pause in an album of longer songs.
  • Fading
    • This song opens with mysterious, echoey vocal chops and a muted synth pluck. A Few bars in, a modulated bass line fills the low end as the entire frequency spectrum is filled with complex percussion. The drum pattern is reminiscent of that you would find in drum and bass but with interesting alterations that make it truly unique. Different layers of vocal sampling and synth leads help give variety to the song while still maintaining a relatively constant beat. Not a lot happens in this song, but it is still able to keep my attention well. That is not an easy task to accomplish. Eventually the speedy double time drum and bass esq percussion is replaced with a more emotive half time drum feel to round out the end of the song and give some contrast and movement to the piece. The song ends with the same vocal sampling as in the intro and spacey, psychedelic surfer rock guitars that give an ending to the song that is as interesting as it is strange.
  • Beams
    • This song has a similar vibe to the last one. Emotionally driven, spacey, drum and bass. Really great stuff. Melodies are well crafted, hopeful and sit perfectly over the inanely fast paced drum backing. The song ends with a spirit lifting half-time drum break down to help drive home the song. It’s a really really great ending to the album.

Shlohmo is performing Sunday April 12th at the Brighton Music Hall. If you aren’t busy, give this guy a shot. It will be a truly unique experience and definitely not one to miss. Watch this teaser to get a taste for the show!

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