- An emotional cassette release that takes in electro, techno and ambient.
- Two years ago, I remarked on the "light touch" in Joel Shanahan's productions, but that's since become less apparent. Earlier this year, the US producer shared a track called "The Damage Has Been Done," since taken down, that sharpened his usual crystalline melodies and lush rhythms into an aggro techno attack. Date Night, his latest cassette, is more wistful than angry, but it doesn't beat around the bush. Recorded live in one take, its four tracks are rawer, reflecting a turbulent moment in Shanahan's life.
Shanahan was the headliner on the night of Ghost Ship fire. Though he had nothing to do with putting on the event, he's since been named in a civil lawsuit on behalf of victims' families, compounding the shock and devastation that he already carried from the experience. There's an urgency to Date Night underlined by an electro-inspired jitter. The regal opener, "Submerged," references the tones and timbres of bleepy '90s Detroit electro, without outright copying it. (The title might be a hint.) The same goes for "Thorn," where a chunky house rhythm collides with a brittle arpeggio, whose lo-fi texture contrasts with the soft synth behind it. Each track glides on these string-like chords, which contribute to Date Night's melancholy hue.
Using ambient techno tropes and distorting them—decaying chords, growling and gurgling basslines—"Swan Song" is gorgeous but unsettling, as if there were some nagging feeling in the background keeping the elements from working together as they should. Even more poignant is the title track, a kick-free, eight-minute drift that highlights Shanahan's improvisation and on-the-fly songwriting. His music isn't quite techno, electro or IDM. But it's ethereal and emotional in a way that's hard to pin down, like waiting for an answer that may never come.
03. Swan Song
04. Date Night