Enigmatic Bay Area leftfield hip-hop producer Shlohmo has seen his international fanbase widen substantially over the last couple of years, which makes the re-release of this 2009 mini-album, originally released hot on the heels of his Shlohmoshun collection, particularly well-timed by Error Broadcast. While Shlohmoshun threw the emphasis firmly upon Shlohmo’s more beat-heavy excursions however, the 14 tracks collected on Shlo-fi (including five newly commissioned remixes) lean distinctly more towards the more minimalistic, abstracted and subtle end of his aesthetic – indeed, there are frequently moments where it barely resembles recognisable ‘hip-hop’ at all.
Opening track ‘Couch’ offers up a completely beatless atmospheric intro as ghostly vinyl noise trails beneath blurry, reverbed out soul keys and vaguely uneasy crunching noises that almost sound like microcassette tape samples, while ‘For You Pt.1’ follows a very similar ambient-centred path as blissful melodic washes and feathery plucked guitar tones build into a rich wall of sound against distant dubbed-out retro science documentary samples; indeed the beats only make an appearance right at the end, rousing themselves like some insect coming out of its slumber. Elsewhere, ‘Blankets’ comes on like the Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ of twitchy glitchy leftfield hip-hop as it sends a fidgety, fumbling drum groove rattling beneath smoky jazz horn samples and lazy piano keys that sound like they’ve been lifted from dusty vintage vinyl, while the new remixes prove no less impressive, Jameszoo injecting an additional sense of blurred IDM-soul into ‘Crust’, while S. Maharba injects razor-sharp snare rolls into his bump-friendly reworking of ‘Ghost’, easily one of the biggest beatcentric highlights here. Extremely impressive stuff all round; Shlo-fi is available as a limited run of just 300 vinyl copies, with a download version also available.