Feed Me’s new eight track EP, Family Reunion is, a vastly new direction for the producer, but the EP’s DNA is unmistakably the jolly, green goblin’s own.
The opener, for example, an anthemic behemoth surpassing the 7-minute mark entitled “High Speed Weekend,” recalls the similarly long in tooth “Embers” from his 2012 release Feed Me’s Escape From Electric Mountain. Given its length, Feed Me takes his time building tension, going a full two minutes of adding layers under a stuttering, plucked lead before transitioning into an exultant drop. This, of course, is only one of many, as another build up, this time using live drum samples, leads into a restrained drop of swirling and chunky yet restrained bass — evidence of classic Feed Me sound design.
“Stay Focused,” the second track of the EP, continues Feed Me’s pursuit into new genres. Fully embracing an acid house feel, the producer layers repetitive samples and small droning sounds over squelching basses. The sound design remains singularly impressive and expansive and, though not a complete reinvention of the wheel, provides just enough digital grit to be recognizably Feed Me’s. One would, however, ask for more energy as, though the basses and synths carry much of the load, the percussion — and particularly the kick drum — lack much oomph to carry “Stay Focused” to another level.
The third track “Red Clouds (Serious Ting)” is the EP’s most obviously connected track to previous Feed Me releases, notable for resampling the hook from his previous track “Cloud Burn.” Entering trap territory, the track is the most likely to be heard in other artists’ sets throughout the rest of the summer. The drop is particularly gnarly: Feed Me avoids oversaturating his subbass — the processing du jour in much of the scene — and fully unleashes his liquid-yet-serrated growls and sonic whips. Wobbles frantically rise and fill out into expansive slashes while still leaving ample room for the track to breathe. Numerous buzzing synthesizer solos lead into each drop, with the second trading in its whips for dropping lasers in the interest of variation. This is the track to show those who are worried Feed Me has completely switched gears and ease them into the rest of the EP.
DA has previously covered the fourth track “What It Feels Like (ft. Nina Nesbitt).” A brief note on it: for an artist who has made his way into the mainstream with a well-deserved reputation for undeniably complex and forceful bass music, Feed Me has quite the ear for a pop tune — though, with some of his melodic interludes and solos on other tracks, this should come as no surprise. Also unsurprising would be this track turning into a big one and luring new fans into the producer’s orbit.
All of Feed Me’s releases have also been vessels with which he showcases his particular sense of humor, particularly in his manipulation of samples to open tracks — shout out to Lenette and Christine from “Pink Lady.” The album’s second half kicks off much the same way, with the producer elongating his sample subject’s vowels, not exactly to her benefit, on “Schizoid,” a collaboration with Speed. Much like the other tracks, this one also maintains a capacious space compared to previous releases. The ominous electronic blasts of sonic waves — think What So Not‘s “Jaguar” if it was left to fend for itself in a most inhospitable desert for an extended spell — linger dangerously, with subtle yet effective increases in crunch as they play out. Repetitive sample work, surprisingly sweet synth solos, and briefly wobbling flares of sound float above this foundation of relentless energy. Likewise, “Schizoid” will certainly become a highlight of Feed Me’s live show — though it does end unceremoniously abruptly.
The harbinger of Feed Me’s shift in direction, “Trouble” featuring Kaneholler, was released in February 2016 and rounds out the third quarter of Feed Me’s Family Reunion. It’s most notable for its looseness and enhanced percussion work before transitioning into a vaguely jungle-like, rolling energy.
The EP’s penultimate track “Life Raft” is a short and sweet number in direct contrast to the opener. A saccharine synth melody — flirting not unabashedly with a tropical vibe — is soon repurposed into receding buildup. The drop continues this relaxed vibe over a lolling moombahton/dancehall groove. A capable production, and one that will likely gain traction with fans who had not been familiar with Feed Me, it will undoubtedly be the EP’s outlier and is easily the least exciting track.
Closing out Feed Me’s Family Reunion is another short entry, “American Cemetery.” Wasting little time before building, this track is a strong encapsulation of Feed Me’s prodigious skills and shift in pace. Where in the past, layer and layer would be somehow coaxed into playing well with each other, this track offers wide open spaces and ambience. A languid vocal slice floats pristinely over slow slashes and rumbling, staccato basses that traverse the sonic space. It’s a track that fans should look forward to hearing at a show; the energy, which isn’t forceful, is still supremely prominent and spreads like electricity, all buzzes and tingles without shock.
For an artist that has been so productive throughout his career — including as his original alias Spor — Feed Me correctly recognized he couldn’t rest on his laurels and not explore new avenues. With as fast-paced as the electronic music scene is these days, artists have no choice but to adapt. Feed Me, with the notable exception of “Lift Raft,” manages to successfully bridge the gap between his old work and his new — though his breathtaking sound design remains, graciously, a consistent highlight. The EP has a looser, confident vibe, as if he doesn’t feel the need to blast his listeners with the tightly confined, adroitly constructed bass of his earlier career. Much like personal family reunions, Feed Me’s latest represents growth and change, while still honoring the participants of the past.
Feed Me’s Family Reunion is out today on Feed Me’s own Sotto Voce.
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