This ‘Slime’ article was written by Oliver Wheeler, a GIGsoup contributor
There comes a point where the exciting and interesting music of yesterday becomes the clichés of today, indeed it didn’t seem like that long ago when the glitchy and electronic sounds shown on Slime’s latest LP, Company, seemed new. Even recent artists such as the indie hipster flavour of the month artist FKA Twigs seemed at least a little fresh. Frankly though, the sound is starting to get dull. What Slime has created on Company is more of the glitchy synths and syncopated drum beats that you will have already heard if you’ve been paying attention to the underground electronic music scene.
Beginning the album with ‘Thurible’, Slime sets a tone for the first half of the record, one of discomfort and the unsettling. One only needs to listen to the abrasive timbre of the lead instrument on this track to understand the discordant tone it aims to set, however, being discordant it is also unpleasant to hear, listening to the sound of a door on rusty hinges opening and closing for three minutes is essentially the same experience as listening to this song, or even a toddler playing a violin if you really want to test yourself. Alongside this, we are also introduced to a production technique that is going to be utilised to hell and back on this album, if you can’t write an interesting melody, slather it in reverb.
Slime’s production technique of utilising extensive amounts of reverb is present throughout the vast majority of the album, often utilising pitched down female vocals that sound like they were recorded in a cave. The disadvantage of this is of course that so much reverb is used, you end up drowning out the rest of the mix leaving little to appreciate but the sounds of a false environment. Consistently, Slime makes great use of reverb in what can be guessed is an attempt to cover up what is essentially dull music with the song ‘Hot Dog’ even goes to the extent of sounding like the same kind of ‘musac’ vaporwave artists have been sampling as a form of parody.
The aforementioned pitched down female vocals (that you will have already heard if you’ve listened to Burial’s 2008 release Untrue, yet here we are years later still wallowing in that cliché) play huge roles in the album in the form of often ruining songs that otherwise were working well. The first interesting song on the album, ‘My Company’ utilises a smooth drum beat with twinkling bell synths and a bizarrely entertaining wobbling synth line, however, one the reverb heavy pitched down vocals enter, the song turns into almost a parody of itself and the clichés of modern electronic music.
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This is of course not to say that the album is all bad. Arriving at the half way point, Slime makes excellent use of Jazz instrumentation, his slow, often dreary beats work excellently with Jazz scales and instrumentation to produce something truly unique in the genre. This is the first flash of brilliance on Company and is a pity that it is not explored more. However, more use of dull, reverb soaked beats can often take away from the enjoyment of many tracks, ‘Symptoms’ as a notable example makes great use of Slime’s Jazz instrumentation over a Trip-Hop beat , unfortunately, only to have obnoxiously loud and reverb heavy vocals drown out the mix. It is small mistakes like this that often ruin Company, an infuriating bassline on ‘The Way of Asprilla’, dull production techniques or the scornful rapping on the penultimate track which makes use of an incredibly lazy flow and such memorable lyrics as ‘How did time’s get so black, guess we couldn’t find the light switch’.
It is regrettable that so much on Company goes wrong. What stands out as brilliant and innovative is often over shadowed by recycled ideas of modern electronic music or generally poorly made songs. By exploring elements on Company, Slime could certainly make the next underground classic, but until that day, Company acts as an album too grounded in convention and bad ideas to ever act as the innovative album it could well have been.
‘Company’ is out now on Domino Recordings