Like the water off the shores of this producer's home state, beats from New-Jersey based slr (sailor) are thick, choppy and refreshing. The producer has hit on various lo-fi sub-styles over the years, but with recent offerings dives into a layered, aqueous sound. We're not the only ones impressed, either, as slr cuts have been featured on tapes from lofi.hiphop, the imprint curated by eminent lo-fi producer bsd.u.
Most of our favorites have a jazzy, improvisational demeanor, whether a piano, horn, or xylophone is the sampled instrument of choice. The thick, layered texture - hear it on “Shift” - comes in part from spreading wide the dusty hi-hats and practicing some adept side-chain compression. This technique compresses the drums in such a way, usually the kick drum, so that it subtly dampens all the other elements in the song each time it thuds. This pops the kick out a bit more and gives more dimension to the rest of the mix. Strong basslines add more viscosity, some seriously strong like the boom on “R.E.M.”. Then of course there’s the vinyl cracks and rushing white noise that subtly sets off a tune like “cook”.
From what’s available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, one can hear that some of slr’s older beats don’t have this thick dimension, tending more towards the soft, spindly side of lo-fi. The production is very diverse if you go back years, hitting other vibes like on “Natalie Portman Goes on a Safari”. Here’s a disjointed, sort of fumbling rhythm with a lead melody played on some delightful equatorial percussion instrument.
The producer collaborates frequently with other notable beatmakers like brother mynor, bsd.u and sensi, with whom he produced an entire tape titled “The Maintenance” that is excellent and laid-back. Unlike his jazzy work, the collab with bsd.u is disorienting, and, as one Soundcloud user writes, “FREEZING”. We’ll keep an ear on the horizon for future collabs, and to hear slr sailing through some forthcoming beat tapes.