Sebastian Kamae explores the dynamics of lo-fi in 'Nomad'.

By taking one look at Sebastian Kamae’s instagram, you will get a pretty good idea of the Dutch-born producers day to day life. Snapshots of mixing consoles, art work and collaborators tell the tale of a producer who only does one thing and that is eat, sleep and breath music! And it seems like Kamae has been on this path since a young age when he first took up piano. From there, he went on to start producing beats in middle school and performing in various bands playing keys. Then in 2017, Sebastian decided to focus solely on engineering and producing after a move to Chicago where he began his internship at SoundScape Studios. Since then, Sebastian has entered a prolific creative period, steadily dropping quality music across a number of international channels and labels.

‘Nomad’ is a track that reflects that long and focused journey of musical knowledge and application. Kamae is a bonafide triple treat, he’s an engineer, live performer/musician and producer so our earbuds are treated to the accumulation of all this knowledge and skill. A lot of lo-fi producers have a traditional approach to making beats, gathering a selection of elect samples and often jamming them out with heavy compression to give that warm vibrant timbre that we all love. But having the kind of skillset that Sebastian has at his finger tips gives him the range to take lo-fi in a slightly different direction and allows him to explore and put his own mark on the sound. While the arrangement seems somewhat familiar, his production style is playful, creating a colourful calando which gives a richness to his work. His tracks seem that bit more polished because of his approach and careful attention to the most subtle of changes in dynamics. I can only imagine the samples of keys are his own as you can hear the emotion in how the keys are played and it gives the track some really uplifting moments. Kamae could saturate the track in a slick polished sound, but he doesn’t, there is still a stripped back, lo-fi feel with bursts of that dynamic range that offset each other beautifully. ‘Nomad’ is a solid release and a pleasure to listen to and I would urge you grab it on bandcamp and check out Sebastian’s other fine releases while you’re there!

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Feel good vibes with Young Citrus 'Sleeping In'

When you think of Los Angeles there are many things you can think of: Venice beach, boardwalks of beautiful people sipping designer caffeine looking on towards the hipster horizon of small boutique businesses to the lavish luxury of the Hollywood Hills. For me when I think of LA I think of 90’s skateboarding, watching the tidal wave of content that dominated the skateboarding world at the time, the west coast ruled in the 90’s not just in terms of skateboarding but in terms of hip-hop. Justin Nguyen aka Young Citrus is a young DJ and producer who grew up in Southern California who embodies all the traits of all of the above. A self professed skate rat and someone who describes himself as “Riding the concrete wave of art and music that is part of the lifestyle”. 

It’s easy to get the feeling from ‘Sleeping In’ as the track exudes a laid-back, boardwalk surfer style that is heavy in nostalgic turntablist samples laid over a playful bouncy bassline. Finally, a mellow jazzy guitar completes the overall feel good vibe of this solid lo-fi release. Nguyen has the power to make me feel like I am listening to summer in January and he leaves me longing for more. 

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Beat Bliss during Kurt Stewart's 'Rush Hour'

Kurt Stewart is no stranger to ADSR. He has been present amongst our blog on more than one occasion and the reason for that is quite simple, he produces solid hip-hop instrumentals, ‘Rush Hour’ like his works before is straight up looped bliss. 

‘Rush hour’ running at just over 2 mins puts some playful jazz piano front and centre and the result is a standard Stewart head nodder! Tight, crisp drums, muted double bass and high frequency hiss give the impression that you are listening to old dusty vinyl. This is what I love about Kurt’s productions is that they exude a kind of café cool that transports you to a place where you feel like you are lounging about sipping expresso smoking cigarettes casually taking in the noodling of the finest jazz artists of the day. Stewart always delivers breezy blissed out beats that are perfect to unwind to. 

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Lounging in lush lo-fi landscapes with Luvwn

Upon doing my research into Luvwn a.k.a. Christopher Kaasik a self described “ introverted art school dropout” hailing from Estonia, I found myself floating off into day dreams as his Spotify track list effortlessly transitioned from track to track. I found it hard to tare myself away as I was enjoying the space that Luvwn had created. According to Christopher “The whole idea behind luvwn is to share a new, unique world through music and art. I feel like sharing a whole world is more interesting than just expressing a story”. In this I feel like Kaasik has achieved his goal. The brand of hip-hop instrumentals he has created are highly ethereal, ponderous, reflective and soothing at times. Not only does Kaasik create a space where you feel ok to be still and contemplative he creates a world where you feel excited to explore with a gentle joy. 

The mainstay in a lot of Luvwn’s works are sampled jazz drums and keys. The samples are chosen with love and care and the combination of the loose percussion and placid piano create magical moments that for me are reminiscent of DJ Shadow’s groundbreaking ‘Endtroducing’, this is especially apparent on Luvwn’s ’to sleep’ and ‘planta lofi’. I feel however Christopher comes more into his own in ‘waking spell’ and combines more complex melodies harmonizing with a lush vocal that has the same effect as his earlier releases while simultaneously revealing the evolution of his sound. If you are a fan of instrumental lo-fi hip-hop then I can’t recommend Luvwn enough as he takes some of the best elements of the genre and makes them his own in the most exuberant fashion. 

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Smooth Sailing with Kurt Stewart's 'Cobblestone Bump'.

Everything about Kurt Stewart is unassuming. From his Spotify bio which simply reads “I love you” to the way he makes his beats. Especially ‘Cobblestone Bump’. We have reviewed Stewart’s releases in the past, most recently his soothing track ‘Laundry’. You can imagine Kurt up late nights crouched over his laptop with only the glow of the screen piercing the darkness as he drops into a state of flow becoming entranced by the latest sample that has grabbed his attention. 

Like in ‘Laundry’ you can see he is a producer that enjoys stretching out the possibilities of a one looped sample. Lovingly and playfully, dropping drums in and out and adding affects where he feels like it. The result is, as always, a well crafted instrumental that gives you a warm sense of nostalgia and chill. Stewart knows the value of his samples and he has a way of transcribing his passion for them that always leaves us wanting more.   

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Misc.Inc allows us to wistfully wander in 'Childish Dreams'

Dresden based Lo-Fi Hip-Hop producer Misc.inc revels in reverie in his latest release ‘Childish Dreams’. His bedim based beat is drenched in somber overtones as the leading sax sample causes us to be still and present by its effectiveness. Jazz has the power to draw us into the most venerable and fragile spaces within ourselves. There is something about the sound of brass being played with such gentle, poignant purpose that markets a magical state of melancholy.  Misc.inc is well aware of this as he gives the sample time to breath and be absorbed by the listener. A straight-up Lo-fi gem that sustains with a lasting repose. 

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Kurt Stewart has me dreaming of Laundry!

When Kurt Stewart described what was going through his head when he put “Laundry” together it said “ I made this beat looking out the window watching fall turn to winter.” And I think that is the perfect way to describe this seasonal, chilled out track.

Funny enough in the UK there is a laundry softening detergent named “Comfort”. Now it’s a simplistic name but a powerful one because that one word associated with fresh clothes invokes an image of something basic, something soothing. On a cold, blustery autumn day it’s nice to do things around the house, tidy up the living room, light a fire, make a cup of coffee maybe while listening to Kurt Stewarts new release because you know what? It has the same effect as all of the above. It comforts you, from the deep resonant bassline to the crackling background sound of vinyl, the crisp drums and the dreamy Rhodes chords. All of these elements bring you the auditory version of that feeling of fresh laundry, of a warm fire on a cold day, protected from the winds outside. Kurt has captured this feeling perfectly. The only thing I wish is that the run time was a bit longer. At 1:38, we get just a brief taste of this breezy, laid back world. Regardless, there’s no doubt that this is a solid Lo-Fi Hip-Hop gem for any playlist.

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Denmark's iamalex brings the summer vibes

For most of us outside of the southern hemisphere, this time of year brings shorter days, cooler weather and dark thoughts creeping in the psyche. Although I've never visited northern Europe in fall or winter to attest to such things, (although hailing from Canada, I think I can relate) I can imagine the Danish may need a few things to remind them that summer is a state of mind; that warm, relaxing, chilled out days are not really that far away.

Enter Soundplate Record's iamalex. Our featured track above, “Tell Me” is a lo-fi, summer sizzler from the get go. It's a sweet little instrumental hip hop tune that breezes by. “Tell Me” is also the first tune of four, from Alex's upcoming self-titled EP.

"Tell me" will leave you California Dreamin' on such a winter's day. While just over 2 minutes in length, this track has a definite old school feel; it’s comprised of semi-phat bass lines, a cool jazz breakdown, guitar tinges and RnB vocals. It’s the perfect tune to get you in the mood for a mellow evening or leisurely morning, free of stress and worry.

If you dig the vibes of our sample track, iamalex has just dropped a cassette release with his homie Bonus Points, that is similarly chilled out and tightly produced. With track names like “Coastal Breeze”, “Time Off” and “Ice Macchiato”, you can see the vibe Alex is going for. As the cool months linger on, the world needs warm coastal beats like the kind iamalex produces. Join me in eager anticipation for the full EP to drop in the next month or so and show your appreciation for iamalex on the following platforms:

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Texas-native Frythm drops Ambient, Folktronica gem

Matthew Pena aka Frythm is a song writer, producer and DJ from Texas who is starting to build momentum from a series of releases on Soundcloud.  One look at his output over the last few months and you can tell he has been busy. While the majority of his releases have been more club focused, recently we seem to take a departure from his infectious high energy offerings to something more serene. 

Mariposa is a track that seems to be built on reflection. It reminds me of waking up on a peaceful Sunday morning. It gives the listener almost the sensation of that first morning stretch of the limbs while being highly nostalgic and contemplative. It exudes heart break and loss. It plays like a love letter to a lost lover. The track starts off wistful, airy and its ambient free- floating back ground noise and loose percussion make you drift away into your thoughts but the lush haunting vocal textures later draw you back down to earth with poignant affect. While Mariposa has a short run time of 2:40 it doesn’t take much time to draw you in and leave you with a lasting impression. 

Frythm shows us that he is not a one trick pony and is very much a producer with a firm grip on his craft and range. An up and comer to watch for sure, I am excited to see what comes next.

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Hungary's Àbáse serves up a thick cut of hip jazz

Hungarian producer and keyboardist Szabolcs Bognar, aka Àbáse, is here to keep jazz hip, while ensuring his beats make the masses hop. Àbáse recently released the above single, "Skeme Goes All City" in anticipation of his forthcoming full length album. Àbáse is the name of Bognar's collaborative jazz project. The album, which should drop later this year, is slated to feature a collection of Hungary's best and brightest in the world of jazz, hip hop, funk, afrobeat and more.

Bognar himself, has played a big part in the Budapest scene for a number of years, while honing his skills on his Rhodes keyboard and further developing his composition techniques. He has collaborated with singers, MCs, and instrumentalists, producing a wide range of sounds and flavors in the process, but always keeping things raw, urban and beat oriented.

Our featured track, "Skeme Goes All City" was recorded in the traditional jazz method, live in one take. It’s raw and uncut, with an analog sweetness. The title of the tune plays homage to New York graffiti artist Skeme, who similarly created his urban inspired art on the fly. The song features our man Szabolcs Bognar on Rhodes keys, Fanni Zahar on flute and vocals, Tamas Heilig on bass and Tamas Czirjak on drums. If this track is any indication of the rest of the album, we're in for a treat; think of standouts from the genre like Robert Glasper, Alfa Mist and Christian Scott, I expect this album to stand beside some giants, albeit a little more low profile.

While Àbáse's previous album, Elevate, could draw comparisons to greats like Guru, Nujabes, Pete Rock or Mablib; hip hop producers with a jazz edge, the new Àbáse project seems to be jazz first, with a hip hop undertone. However you want to classify Àbáse, whether he delves into hip hop, jazz, afro, funk or more; whether he releases tracks with vocals or delivers an album of all instrumentals, I for one, am more than excited to see what he brings us next and when the full album will finally be released.

If you like what you hear from Àbáse don’t hesitate to jump on the social media train via the following platforms:

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