Ross From Friends - Family Portrait

  • Ross From Friends graduates from lo-fi house on his intimate debut LP.
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  • Felix Cleary Weatherall's music as Ross From Friends is all about the feels. The clammy synths and soulful vocal samples of early tracks like "Donny Blew It" were often catchy and stirring. His arrangements, though, weren't always as strong as his ear for a sentimental melody, so his tracks could sometimes feel rudimentary. But his work, often compared with other lo-fi house artists like DJ Boring and DJ Seinfeld, has clearly struck a chord—one 2016 track, "Talk To Me You'll Understand," has over four million views on YouTube. On this year's Aphelion EP for Brainfeeder, Weatherall introduced a new level of intricacy to his music. Broad strokes became vivid images. Family Portrait, Weatherall's debut album, is another step forward. Family Portrait, which took over two years to make, was inspired by a trip Weatherall's parents took in 1990, before he was born, throwing soundsystem parties across Europe, and also by the dance music they played in the house as he grew up. You can hear these influences in the fragments of rave, breakbeat, hip-hop and electronic pop among the LP's house tracks. "This is definitely the most consciously personal music I've made," he said recently. "I wanted to do something that could actively contain a part of [my parents] within it." Family Portrait is, like his past work, all about melody. The metallic thrust of "Thank God I'm A Lizard" is offset by daubs of soft-focus synth—the kind of woozy reverie Weatherall's known for. The slowed-down funk of "The Knife" has an unintelligible vocal that will worm its way into your head. "Project Cybersyn" zigzags between stark drum passages, bursts of saxophone and a buried melodic lead. The sax sounds sad, while the synth lead and bassline get the blood pumping. Alongside sentimentality, there's distress and excitement, too. Last year's The Outsiders EP had six tracks lasting 44 minutes. Family Portrait packs more ideas into tighter frames. The LP was painstakingly assembled, with Weatherall logging 20-hour days on some tracks. It's on tracks like "Wear Me Down" and "Pale Blue Dot" that the newfound complexity of Weatherall's sound becomes obvious. The music is densely textured and meticulously arranged, but it's still as much about feelings as it is technical chops. Take "Don't Wake Dad," first released on Aphelion. Something about its bleary-eyed shuffle, smooth jazz accents and chipmunk vocals is ineffably familiar and intimate. By drawing on memories and relationships for inspiration, Weatherall conveys emotion more convincingly than ever before.
  • Tracklist
      01. Happy Birthday Nick 02. Thank God I'm A Lizard 03. Wear Me Down 04. The Knife 05. Project Cybersyn 06. Family Portrait 07. Pale Blue Dot 08. Back Into Space 09. Parallel Sequence 10. R.A.T.S. 11. Don't Wake Dad 12. The Beginning