September 29, 2008

The third album from local electronic producers Hermitude takes a subtle journey into down-tempo beats which cross the globe yet forge a coherent and distinctive blend with a local flavour. Down-tempo artists often run the risk of being relegated to enhancing the retail or café experience, as inoffensive and slightly eccentric touches of exotica blend together to fill the awkward gaps in the inner city void.

However Hermitude’s third album, aptly titled Threads, weaves together an enjoyable mix of beats and melodies that somewhat stray from their instrumental hip-hop roots.  Tracks subtly shift from Caribbean-inspired dub, reggae, dancehall and perhaps even reggaeton, to bass-heavy minimal electronica, while returning to the almost mandatory vintage latin, jazz, and hip-hop beats and scratched up samples that loosely define this eclectic genre.

While guest appearances from Jamaican reggae star Luciano on “New People” overtly mark the Carribean influence on the album, Threads neatly drops funky hip hop beats and heavy dub basslines, mixing middle-eastern flavoured melodies together with enough breathing space for bleepy samples, best illustrated on tracks like “44 Gallon” and “Vector”.

Hermitude’s intelligent mix of synths, live instrumentation and sampling is awesome, the album has few, if any, low points, and they never really become preoccupied with the recreation of authentic exotica, a preoccupation that often ensnares other like-minded artists attempting a wide ranging blend of sounds and styles, usually ending up as boring modern musical mush. Threads is impressive, exciting and never dull, and even if it did still find its way to the inner-city café scene, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.