“South Down” by Loci
The last 12 months have shown quite a steady rise in Amir Alexander’s trans-Atlantic popularity. This hardly comes off as a surprise after almost two decades of dedicated involvement with the underground house scene. While maintaining a reputation of a ferocious DJ, the Chicagoan has been patiently developing his production skills, inventing something instantaneously identifiable about his music that reaches far into the synergistic depths of Chicago, Detroit, or New York. And with a prolific series of flawlessly raw and well-thought-out interpretations of these traditions for Machining Dreams, Argot, Finale Sessions, and his own Vanguard Sound, he’s been carving out a name for himself at the forefront of the American underground scene and drawn the attention of his European counterparts along the way. His latest is the swampy Everybody’s Beautiful EP for Hype_LTD, a Hypercolour sub-label, which is exemplary of how well-versed he’s become in sending subconscious messages to surprisingly diverse audiences.
The original mix is a wistful composition, gently meandering through gaseous, dreamlike chords. Its intentionally propulsive backbone, juxtaposed with sluggish sensual flushes, gives it an ambiguously double-speed feel, and the author’s wisely placed monologues sufficiently intensify the impression. Sonically, though, it doesn’t really tread new territory, and it’s only when he adds unexpected alien tonalities in the “Acid Mix” that you start to believe he’s “moving in slow-motion.” The trick works much better here using the strutting acidic skeleton as a carrier wave for his oneiric spoken-word performance. Layer after layer of tightly controlled bass projectiles, percussive micro-explosions, and sleepwalking keys suddenly wrap themselves around the whole structure and Alexander’s unique emotional register finally unfurls. At that sort of depth in experience, concepts of dark and light become fairly irrelevant. “Dazed & Amazed” begins as a decisively steady groove, coupled with subterranean bass lines and uneasy glissandos. But as time passes on, Amir Alexander goes dangerously deep, distorting the basic vibes to their limits, and further. Bass lines twist and wobble in front of our ears as if they were imitating a sonic moiré pattern; ever-mutating glissandos dissipate in space like rays of light fleeing through the void; a distant diva repeats her mantra and in unison, they form a magnificent, cerebral meditation upon displacement. The Everybody’s Beautiful EP continues to reveal the enormous talent hiding behind the controls, efficiently conveying different aspects of a certain hidden message throughout all tracks, just waiting for someone to translate it.