Review : Artifacts - Aether
TinymixtapesDiego Chavez, a.k.a. Aether, is heretofore best known for remixing Swedish pop singer Lykke Li’s song “Little Bit.” Those who come to his debut full-length Artifacts with only that information may be somewhat surprised, though, because this — a nostalgic, largely instrumental hip-hop album — bears little resemblance to dance or pop music.
When reviewing instrumental hip-hop records, I find it best just to start with the elephant in the room: Artifacts is almost nothing like Endtroducing...... Where Endtroducing.....’s instrumental samples were clear, articulate, and obsessively sequenced as to occasionally evoke classical orchestration, the entirety of Artifacts seems more distant, more obscured. The vocals, which are quite distorted to begin with, often become less distinct as songs progress, swirling around the beats until they become so unintelligible as to take on purely sonic meaning.
Besides that one trick, there’s not a great deal of ground that hasn’t been covered before. The whole album is filled with the same boom-bap beats that we already know and love, and many songs fall into a repetitive groove for minutes on end. It’s obvious that Chavez has a great deal of love and respect for the great instrumental hip-hop DJs, but love isn’t enough to create a classic album....full text
PensatosAlthough his name might sound like that of a Latino revolutionary, San Antonio’s Diego Chavez is not the leader of a revolt, nor is he a civil rights activist. He is not the president of Venezuela. He does not rock or roll. He produces, but he is not a farmer. He is known by many names, including Otic Angst and A.M. Architect. He flows mellifluously on rich beats and aura-building sounds that sink deep into your pulse and move your body against your will. He is Aether, creator of electro hip-hop beats that soak your soul.
No, that isn’t the copy to the new heart-pumping, earth-shattering Nike commercial. But Chavez’s inspiring, meticulous beats could provide the soundtrack to such (if any ad men happen to be reading this). Aether’s debut full-length album, Artifacts, grooves on tracks that are as awe-inspiring as they are danceable, setting the groundwork for a vacation through the very psyche of man....full text
UrbTo the casual listener, hip-hop has always been a music form that is about its visceral power, a force to make its partakers revel in the moment through the shaking of asses. A common misconception about hip-hop is that it’s solely dance music for people lacking an affinity for the open hi-hat and bass drum stomp of the Euro-club sound. Less informed listeners tend to overlook hip-hop’s capacity to be a vehicle for pensiveness, instead simplifying the artform into one-dimensional party music that sometimes comes with a political conscience (backpacker hip-hop). In their minds, there is absolutely no way that hip-hop could possibly compete with ambient music as the soundtrack of choice for thoughtful reflection.
Aether’s beautifully layered, meticulously textured debut LP, Artifacts, which is unquestionably a hip-hop record, serves to challenge that claim. While only one MC is present on the album (in the form of a ghostly, sampled verse on its final track), its gritty drum loops, propensity for sampling, and emphasis on simple, groove-heavy rhythms allow it to fit comfortably into the genre. These aren’t mere soundscapes; each piece is driven by drum tracks that only enhance the hypnotic feel of the album. Each of the San Antonio producer’s tracks possesses a tragic sense of nostalgia, achieved through the use of some of the most basic elements of hip-hop. Choppy, hard-hitting percussion tracks, manipulated, low bit-rate string samples, and ethereal, soulful vocals form the core of the record’s musical palette. The gorgeous melancholia present on all sixteen tracks makes the album a cozy place to nurse your head when you’re not in the mood to be lulled into slumber by Brian Eno. Artifacts may not get anyone in the zone on the dance floor, but it’s perfect music to zone out to....full text
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