Under his (DJ) Nobody moniker, Los Angeles-based electronic producer Elvin Estela has carved out a substantial presence amongst the West Coast leftfield hiphop / beats scene, with an ongoing residency at that city’s influential Low End Theory club, and regular collaborations over the last several years with the likes of Busdriver, Prefuse 73 and Mia Doi Todd. Three years from his preceding ‘One For All Without Hesitation’ collection, this fifth solo album ‘Vivid Green’ sees Estela crafting a collection that practically drips with moody synth-heavy sheen, with the list of guests this time taking in former Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Bosnian Rainbows’ Terri Gender-Bender and Baths’ Will Weisenfeld. Instrumental track ‘Third Charm’ kicks things off with a pensive wander through shuffling, off-centre MPC-punched beats and dry, rattling snare programming that places smoky jazz flute samples against a wash of smoothed-out synth ambience that recalls a night-time glide over some abandoned metropolis.
If the aforementioned track occasionally calls to mind the coldness of a John Carpenter score fused with the glowing synth-bounce ghost of LA’s hyphy scene, the swaggering ‘Rex’ welds skittering footwork breakdowns to a surging backdrop of spy-movie brass and sub-bass wobbles, before ‘Rhombus’ sees sinister filmic orchestration and sitar plucks providing a lush backing as eerie bleeping synths trail against snapping hiphop beats. In many senses though it’s the vocal tracks that make the biggest impression here upon first listen, with the guest artists putting more of a human face on the impressive, but occasionally slightly impersonal instrumental arrangements that predominate here. Cedric Bixler-Zavala is at first almost unrecognisable on ‘Our Last Dance’, eschewing his usual rock histrionics in favour of breezy pop-soul as woozy synth pads float against bright analogue electronics, before ‘Sleeping Alone’ takes a colder turn as a wall of juddering darkwave synths builds against Terri Gender-Bender’s densely multitracked harmonies. While’s a sense of detached remoteness to some of the tracks here, this is a consistently interesting collection.