- It's safe to say some Shlohmo fans will be confused by Dark Red, particularly those who came across the LA producer through his work with Jeremih. The artist we once knew for his reflective, folk-laced R&B beats has all but abandoned this template in favour of something more challenging. In fact, the only thing Dark Red really has in common Shlohmo's last album, Bad Vibes, is a hip-hop influence and the presence of guitar.
Dark Red's best moments tend to be percussive. Most of Shlohmo's tracks still have a half-step stagger, but the space in between is often packed with flourishes that make them feel much more energetic. "Meet Ur Maker," for instance, uses its heavily processed, washed out drum breaks to great effect. "Slow Descent" has a similar structure, but here the breaks take more of a primary position, and the track is all the better for it, its harsh snares creating an almost militaristic groove that recalls the heyday of jungle-centric IDM.
Other parts of the album don't fare as well. Shlohmo has always shown a fondness for shoegaze textures and heavily distorted lead guitar, but here a gloomy post-rock sound is shoved to the forefront from the outset. This isn't inherently a bad thing, and true enough, there are some lovely moments. The wistful melody of "Remains" is Shlohmo at his best—it's so personal you can almost picture him writing it. The problem is that the album sometimes feels overblown. Take the opener, "Ten Days Of Falling"—it's a distorted synth number with the epic delivery of M83, but without their pop appeal it comes off less melancholic and more straight-up depressing. "Buried" has a lead guitar that could only be described as over-the-top, and snares that could have come straight from a hair metal record. This kind of emotion is the album's defining feature. Where Bad Vibes had a dynamic range of feeling, Dark Red is melodramatic to the point of being alienating.
01. Ten Days of Falling
02. Meet Ur Maker
04. Emerge From Smoke
05. Slow Descent