Dualizm offers classic instrumental bliss in 'An Ounce Of Rain'

Dualizm is a german producer based in Berlin who over the last few years has been busy galvanizing beats for a number of artists in the underground hip-hop scene. Recently he decided it was high time he put out some of his own material and we have had the pleasure of reviewing his latest release ‘An Ounce of Rain’ from his Project R Vol. 2 EP which is out now on various platforms (available below).


Heavily built on nostalgia, intentional or not, ‘An Ounce of Rain’ feels like a nod to the golden age of late 90’s hip-hop. Even with it’s short running time of 2mins 45s the track still feels fully realized because of the steady progression. Starting off with some somber Rhodes that creates a pensive head space while also managing to be dream like. There are plenty of atmospheric soundscapes that float like air and drizzle like rain which keep you engaged in the tracks groove until your attention is drawn towards the uplifting, hopeful piano hook that elevates the mood. ‘An Ounce of Rain’ embodies all the classical elements of instrumental hip-hop, telling you a story through expression and nuance. I only wish the track ran a bit longer because I feel like there was potential for a lot more exploration but I guess its not always a bad thing to be left wanting more, which is the very much the case in Dualizm latest release. 

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Gone in a (green) flash with Phoenix's Phortran

It could be the hot desert climate of the state of Arizona, or the nearly 300 days of sun Phoenix experiences per year, but beat producer ‘phortran’ seems to have some hazy heat running through his veins. Originally taking his musical inspiration from experimental electronic music and idm, it wasn’t until he heard Hip Hop artists such as Aesop Rock and MF Doom in the 90s that his musical tastes started to shift. Artists like Madlib, Dilla and Nujabes further fuelled the budding beatmaker’s creative blueprint, and laid the foundation for which his modern productions rest on.

Taking a look at phortran’s Soundcloud it’s quickly apparent that this style and finesse didn’t happen overnight. With more than 70 tracks posted over the last 6 years it’s clear that he’s done his homework and steadily honed his sound. He has recently become involved with a local Phoenix-based collective called Brunch Collect and put out a split EP called "States Away" with fellow beat maker- jives. He is currently working on his next split release with Korey Wade and playing shows around Phoenix.

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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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Winter Chill with Kurt Stewart's 'brrr!'

Winter on the east coast of America and Canada brings with it a few guarantees: short days, cold temps and regular dustings of snow. But this sub-zero hibernation isn’t all bad as Vermont- based beatmaker ‘Kurt Stewart’ shows with recent track- brrr! Although the name incites a whole body chill experienced only when your older brother shoves a handful of snow down your snowsuit, the sound of the track itself is actually quite warm and toasty. With a vintage croon to open the beat, the track bumps along with warm sense of nostalgia as the thumping kick drum drives everything forward. Although just over a minute long, brrr! gives us that brief moment of respite before heading back out into the bitter elements.

Happy winter from Kurt Stewart!
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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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Less is more with Sweden's lesspoint

With the seemingly limitless possibilities of today’s DAW’s it’s easy to understand how the modern producer can become bogged down by options. Endless samples, routing options and sound design possibilities can be both liberating and overwhelming at the same time. Despite all the technology in music production today, it really all just comes back to what matters most which is the music.

Enter 20 year old Swedish beat producer- lesspoint. The Computer Science major explains that when he’s not studying, “in my free time I make beats.” Originally learning from online tutorials and making house music, lesspoint describes his recent shift in tastes: “My love for chill/downtempo/hip-hop beats has been growing a lot over the last few years, some of my biggest influencers right now are Freddie Joachim, DJ Grumble, Ian Ewing and Quickly, Quickly.”

Despite his humble attitude, lesspoint’s productions are uncluttered and well-crafted dream pieces that sit perfectly on a chillout playlist or as background study music. His recent track ‘thepoint’ fits this description perfectly featuring crunchy drums, floaty pads, and chopped up samples, and is just the thing to toss on when in need of some decompression. lesspoint describes his production mindset - “When I made this beat I tried to make a beat that you can listen to whenever, something that can be played without interrupting your thoughts, maybe I am unconsciously making my own study music.”

With beats like this who needs study breaks?

Hit the books with lesspoint
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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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