5AM - Onward

The smoothest psychedelic sound this side of the Milky Way can be found on Onward, a five track EP from the Philadelphia-based electronic musician 5AM aka Sam Andrus. Onward is the most ambitious effort yet in 5AM’s ongoing journey to blend jazz, funk and R&B with forward-thinking psychedelic bass music. Indeed, listening to Onward feels like lurking about an intergalactic jazz cafe where the atmosphere is electric, eyes are low, and harsh vibrations are checked at the door.

As a composer and arranger 5AM comes off calm and collected yet bold on this release. He flips and flexes sounds to their limits, but there’s no overreach. Complex arrangements of liquid glitches, space-travel synthesizers and weighty basslines somehow render themselves easy for ears to follow. With an obsessive attention to detail, 5AM has earned praise from his peers for immaculate mix-downs. Across Onward, each track is clean and buttoned-up. All sonic elements - vocals, guitar (courtesy of Keith Wadsworth of Wax Future), percussion and righteous keys - fit together like a puzzle.

But qualitative analyses aside, simply plunge into the feel of Onward. The mind, hungry for inspiration and inclined towards adventure, instinctively picks up what 5AM puts down and it becomes apparent: this is a fresh sound and attitude with lasting relevance for the future.