Lismore is a town in NSW close to the border of Queensland, sometimes overlooked in favour of the hippy glamour of nearby tourist towns Byron Bay and Nimbin. Lismore is often overlooked in terms of its electronic musicians’ talent. It’s fairly safe to comment that the majority of the electronic EDM population there prefer sounds associated with the Australian national anthem of outdoor parties, psytrance or (more recently) neuro-hop derivative.
Mixed Blessings is part of a surprising uprising of instrumental hip-hop in Australia that is spunky and unique, preluded and honed by such labels and artists as Aoi, Able8, Beats Home and Uncomfortable Beats. It is Lismore-based producer Rohan Lloyd’s first EP. Aneurythm has also recently had his track ‘Reel Talk’ released on Uncomfortable Beats’ latest compilation Technology Box.
Objectively, there are no underlying complexities to fathom in Mixed Blessings in terms of beat progression, but the strength of the album lies in its sturdy loops, and solid sensibilities of minimal hip-hop instrumental composition.
‘Sums’ is a bouncing kick-kick-snare of stock 80bpm movement, with the steady piano and violin lending tones that are paradoxically sad and happy. ‘Spice’ continues the emotional content with shuffling, broken 70bpm percussion punctuating whimsical keys and an occasional sample of violin or voice stab thrown in to create a rather sombre atmosphere.
‘Commit’ continues Spice’s tempo in Mixed Blessings‘ melancholic beats through piano rhythm and melody, but with tougher sub-bass and a boom-bap kick-snare this time. The tones of Aneurythm’s sub-bass punctuation would make most bass music specialists green with envy; his commitment (pun not particularly intended) to layered low-frequencies leaving 95% of DnB/dubstep specialists running to the loo with their gut-turning growl.
This special sub-bass growl is transferred to back beats in ‘Smote’, now at the more level hip-hop tempo. Although this is a short track, this is perhaps the point where Mixed Blessings‘ unrelenting boom-bap and tone could drag on for some listeners, although as mentioned earlier, it fits with the album’s minimalist leanings.
The formula is changed with final track ‘Aiko’, which shifts to a 114bpm 4/4 hegemony of gritty tech-style beats, with ‘Commit’s menacing ever-present bass and meandering keys phasing from low to high, andh a crackling key rhythm laced over the top. I feel this change in tempo lends promise that Aneurythm has more to offer in the future and won’t always be confined to generic umbrellas.
Mixed Blessings is a solid debut release for Aneurythm and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from him if he continues to collaborate with other labels like he has been. His sound serves to populate and strengthen a new breed of beats embraced by Australian instrumental hip-hop producers. It’s available for free download in all conventional formats from Bandcamp.