So, I must have been a bit too lost-in-the-sauce to recognize that during last summer’s “chillwave” epidemic that swept airwaves and headphones, there was a producer/dj emerging from the unlikely state of South Carolina that people would be talking about this summer. If you are unfamiliar with chillwave/glo-fi, or any other of its genre-bending allies that are associated with this form of music, there are plenty of articles written about it but I will indulge you because as a reader you have made it this far.
In the summer of 2010, a prominent music blog with a daytime show on a big-time satellite radio network (*hint), started to pioneer a new musical hybrid of music called, chillwave. This new mixed-race baby of musical innovation brought together a mélange of styles associated with the youth of twenty-and-thirty something’s from all walks of life. By taking elements of video game samples, shoegaze, lo-fi, downtempo, hiphop, new wave, house, ambient and electronica. It is a veritable melting-pot of styles merged into one. It’s like your favorite photograph has been Photoshopped drastically, you can see all the elements used, you can visually separate the layers needed to create the masterpiece that is front of you, despite this you cannot help that it has become one of your favorite images to look at. Now, imagine that with music.You can see (hear) all of the musical elements being fused together and making something sonically new, recycled, but in some way wholesomely-organic. Fuck! I use a lot of hyphens. Let’s get on to the artist that I want to talk about in this piece: Hard Mix.
In the wake of bands like Washed Out (*pun), Toro Y Moi, and Neon Indian which are all viable artists touring, playing and producing music; I feel that an artist like Hard Mix has more staying power to a worldwide audience and this is reflected in his 10-song LP entitled, Faults (Dovecote). The savvy listener (if you are on this site, then you are one of the chosen) will notice audible distinctions between him and others in the genre when comparing Hard Mix with some of his other chill wave contemporaries.
The first time that I heard “Memories” I was quick to notice that soulful, fuzzy sample of, “All your love!” and I fell in love. A lot of critics are quick to point out the limitations of the genre as a passing-fad and that they aren’t “real musicians” but regardless of your stand on the DJ/dorm room/musical producer argument you cannot deny that Hard Mix has a soul that many of the other artists in the genre lack. Choosing the right (vocal) samples made his distinct sound divert from what was getting played by satellite radio and pushed by the black horn-rimmed glasses set. I wonder if something a year-old become traditional that fast? Accelerated antiques perhaps?
I got the full length for free because when you "Like" them on Facebook they give you the album gratis. The first listens I let it play in the background and provided a nice groove to set off the morning proper. The Ones We Read which sets off the album starts with audio of a television set flipping through the channels. It finally lands on the recording of a woman explaining the sublime feeling of performing live. This segues into a beautiful rolling piano complete with vocal sample of Do you want me? before jumping into Hard Mix’s style of screwing and distorting the vocals on some spaced-out Michael “5000” Watts, ish.
Now Her is the following track that takes the listener on another audible adventure, breaking strides and providing a calypso/reggae/80’s pop-style groove with a quick clipped vocal sample that I cannot ID…But it’s hot. Coasting Earth is a good follow-up. As the morning started to progress and I began to pay more attention to the intricate elements in each composition. No longer was this just background music, even though it could easily have gone off in a spa, or a fashion show without a bat of an eye. My favorite tracks on this tight, 37-minute album are the last two cuts; Bright Eyed Child and 1997. They are the two I revisiting. I guarantee that if you download this you will have no choice but to make a fool complete fool out of yourself by dancing yourself right off the treadmill whole listening to B.E.C.
Music is supposed to influence you, make you dance, think, laugh, and cry. Hard Mix achieves all of this by creating a new world out of the old worlds of classical, disco, world, record samples, and soul.
Fans of this artist may like: Bonobo, Phantogram, Cloud Cult, Toro Y Moi, Do Make Say Think, Yppah, Blue Sky Black Death (newer).