- The American West Coast has been a fertile bed for several permutations of electronic music, be it the thriving Bay Area dubstep scene or the always-expanding L.A. beat scene. Considering the expanse and in-house diversity of these collectives, it's surprising how little cross-pollination there is: You can usually pick out a member of a certain local scene quite easily without much margin of error. Until now, that is. Paul Salva, head of the Frite Nite label and collective, called SF home in recent years—just recently relocating to LA—and it comes through in his sound: his tracks have a West Coast exaggerated funkiness and playfulness to them, along with the drunken swagger that only comes from years of digesting hip-hop.
Each track on Salva's debut Complex Housing is carefully considered and solidly written—neither burning through too fast nor lingering past their welcome—built meticulously from the ground-up. The record's main palette shares the overdriven and quashed sound of some of his contemporaries. (Think Lazer Sword only much, much better.) However, there's an intense and studied musicality on display, particularly with the opening duo of "Beached" and "Wake Ups," two tracks so silky they can't help but slip through your fingers and leave captivating melodies behind in the messy process. The retro pastiches of his contemporaries sound boring and insincere in comparison.
Salva also dips his fingers in dubstep, and whatever else might be happening in the UK: you can hear bits of Night Slugs and other similarly house-oriented UK trends. Instead of flailing like a fish out of water, the broader horizon endows Salva's album with a level of sonic detail that you might not normally expect from a West Coast producer. The screeching Hoover-pop of "40 Karatz" is grounded with tremor-inducing sub-bass and 808, as if "Woooo Riddim" got caught it in its rapidly revolving spokes. The cutesy vocal gymnastics on "Keys Open Doors" or the elliptical beats of "Baroque" can't help but bring to name any number of future garage producers, and "Icey" is the best Joker track that Joker never made.
Salva absorbs more than just UK bass, though. The acid house gestures and skewed house beat of "I'll Be Your Friend" are prime examples of his myriad interests. It's this co-mingling of all these different styles that makes Complex Housing so exciting. It's energized with a pure love for music that lends it a rambunctious and endearing spirit. I went into Complex Housing expecting yet another album of so-so West Coast electro-funk and came out a zealous card-carrying resident of the nightmarish residency depicted on the cover.
02. Wake Ups
03. 40 Karats ft. Zackey Force Funk
04. Keys Open Doors
05. Issey Miyake
07. I'll Be Your Friend
09. Weird Science
11. Wake Ups (B Bravo Remix)
12. Keys Open Doors (MachineDrum Remix)
13. Blue (My Dry Wet Mess Remix)
14. 40 Karats ft. Zackey Force Funk (Lando Kal Remix)