- Up Too Early started as a Spotify playlist, curated by Friends Of Friends as music to listen to early in the morning. It's a modest concept that focuses on an almost universal experience, whether you're sinking your first cup of coffee or stumbling home as the sun rises. The playlist included artists like múm, Caribou, Burial, Bibio and James Blake, and the response was so immediate that Friends Of Friends decided to tap their considerable network for bespoke tracks. And though Up Too Early might seem like a narrow concept, it's a great example of the label's style and the strength of its roster.
As of late, Friends Of Friends has focused on the bleary-eyed: the downtempo lullabies of Kyson, Anenon's tender ambient, Deru's haunting soundscapes. Up Too Early invites these artists to submit their most comfortable music yet. Kyson's "Wattle Rise" might be something of a trifle, but its pitter-patter percussion and soft vocal slot in well between Goldmund's pretty piano intro and Anenon's carefully soaring "Sonora." Most of the sounds here, even the drums, are padded and soft, like footsteps in the snow.
Each artist presents a different notion of early morning music, and every track is emotive in its own way. Jeppe Kjellberg and Pavlov offer folky ruminations—the choral effect on the latter's "We Lost Another Sundown" is especially arresting. Clive Tanaka's "Empty Sidecar" is like hypnagogic Balearic, while Daedelus's "Morning Melody" pairs Beach Boys samples with saccharine Hollywood strings, the kind of thing to soundtrack that glorious moment when you pull back the drapes and let the sun in. Prefuse 73 turns his boom-bap inside out with the honeyed "A Sword In The Rain," while King Britt ends the compilation with its strongest track, "9.11 (Dreamers)," where the pulse of techno feels more like the flickering of a candle's flame.
What's most striking about Up Too Early is how easily the label's core artists adapt to the theme. The compilation is, in some ways, an accidental manifesto: in focusing on tender moments and reflective quietude, Friends Of Friends hit on the best aspect of their more recent output. In the era following Groundislava and Shlohmo, the LA label has felt its way around in the dark, signing new artists and hesitantly moving in different directions. With Up Too Early, they've found their calling: delicate electronica, full of genuine feeling and emotion.
01. Goldmund - Thread
02. Kyson - Wattle Rise
03. Anenon - Sonora
04. The Album Leaf - Eleven
05. Robot Koch - Harps At Midnight
06. Daedelus - Morning Melody
07. Baths - Big World
08. Pavlov - We Lost Another Sundown
09. Jeppe Kjellberg - I Ask
10. Clive Tanaka - Empty Sidecar
11. Prefuse 73 - A Sword In The Rain
12. Jensen Sportag - Levitation Dream
13. Gilligan Moss - Mirror Mantra
14. Braille & Calmer - Turn The Tables
15. King Britt - 9.11 (Dreamers)