Give Rossie the CDJs, Marcel.
While he may have originally emerged back in 2015 as the clown prince of lo-fi house, Ross From Friends showed off a more mature aesthetic when he debuted on Brainfeeder in early 2018. He follows up that EP, Aphelion, with his first full-length. Family Portrait is a well-rounded distillation of the producer's multi-faceted style, drawing as much influence from his new boss Flying Lotus as it does the fidgety compressed club jams of contemporaries like Project Pablo.
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A few weeks ago I spent an evening writing addresses on envelopes. Fun. But what made it more fun was that I put Youtube on and listened through bits of the Ross From Friends back cat. If there's any music that is suitable for a late evening manual task whilst sun streams in a bedroom window it is this. Some superb tracks in there but when not listening to Youtube I'm an albums man and Ross hasn't dropped one of them til now.
The fact that he's signed to Brainfeeder is proof enough that he's more than a lo-fi house practitioner with jumper clad press shots. The lad is getting serious and 'Family Portrait' sees him stretching away from the sound that he has become known for (namely old house tracks played through a phone speaker). This is both good and bad news for the listener in that sometimes the chilling, hazy atmospheres are missing yet at other times the boldness brings a new technicolour sound which reaps dividends particularly on the lovely 'The Knife' and the Squarepusher ish skirl and fizz of the lovely and warm 'Pale Blue Dot' and the Aphex gloop of 'Parallel Sequence'.
If you are expecting a whole album of the sort of aching soulful house exemplified on the terrific lead single 'Don't Wake Dad' then you may be disappointed. 'Family Portrait' spends much of its time looking for new avenues to move down and since many of these sound like re-treads of the glory days of Warp records there's nothing here that really pushes things forward. The nostalgia just seems deeper set in early 2000s electronic wizards rather than the blissful house of yore. Not a disappointment as such - just different to what I was expecting/hoping.
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