Category: Non Projects

Premiere: Ryan York's 'As the Darkness' on Non Projects [MP3]

Ryan York in light
Once you enter Topanga Canyon, you understand. The terrain that the Tongva tribe called “a land above” has forever cultivated a laissez-faire bohemian spirit. It is the last remaining spot in L.A. where you can purchase crystals without feeling embarrassed. You can wander in multiple restaurants and hear the word “esoteric vibrations” being used. Hitchhikers still dot the road connecting Highway 1 to the deep recesses of the San Fernando Valley.

It’s a spot suspended in amber, a permanent reminder of the 1960s spirit and arguably the best place to create in Los Angeles County. It’s the former home of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and the forever undervalued Spirit.

So, when Ryan York, the producer also known as Asura, titled his new EP “If I Am This Forest,” it was an obvious reference to his new Arcadian digs. You can’t live in Topanga and not be swept up by the peaceful energy and radical tranquility. Accordingly, “Forest” is a gorgeous whoosh of blindingly bright summer synths and gauzy honey-throated vocals.

The Non Projects-released EP splits the difference between Panda Bear’s “Person Pitch” and the phosphorescent blessed-out beats of Teebs, York’s fellow Futura resident. It’s easily York’s finest work and cements an artist barely old enough to drink as yet another of the greater Low End Theory world that warrants national attention.

Premiering today on Pop & Hiss, “As the Darkness (After the Crash)” almost feels like a contemporary beat scene take on “After the Gold Rush.” Rural guitar strums conjure a hayseed ambience, layers of synths and looped vocals build like the gentlest of gyres. While York stays carefully attuned to the power of melody -- something often sacrificed scene-wise in terms of interesting sounds or pulverizing bass.

The canyon has been largely quiet since Devendra Banhart’s freak-folk phase faded away. “If I Am This Forest” is the sort of record that could inspire musicians to cluster around Pat’s Topanga Grill, the state park and log cabin living rooms throughout the canyon. If only the real estate were a bit cheaper.

ALSO:

Non Projects label offers new mixtape

Non Projects' RareBit searches and destroys

Baths comes clean

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: Ryan York; Credit: Paolo Rafael

Download: (Pop & Hiss Premiere)
MP3:Ryan York -- 'As the Darkness (After the Crash)'

Pop & Hiss premiere: Non Projects' RareBit searches and destroys [MP3]

Rarebit_funk-400x267 Though a majority of local beat heads hail from the city or suburbs ringing Los Angeles, almost every week brings a new transplant. Samiyam, whose stellar "Sam Baker's Album" arrives on Brainfeeder later this month, arrived years ago from Ann Arbor, Mich. The Gaslamp Killer comes from San Diego, where he cleared out dance floors in the cologne-wreathed Gaslamp District. Matthewdavid was raised in Florida. Just last week, the Anticon-signed rapper Serengeti moved here.

Those are just a few of the more established names. Beneath the crust are dozens of other twentysomethings who came in search of crazy beats, (in some cases) strong smoke and close-knit community. One of the more recent upstarts is Pacific Northwesterner Justin Hopkins, who records as RareBit and is dropping his debut EP on the local Non Projects label -- a imprint distributed by linchpin Alpha Pup Records.

Befitting Non Project's experimental jones, the 24-year old illustrator/producer takes an omnivorous approach, filtering everything from 100-year-old comic strips to disco to found sounds recorded in Burma. Released Tuesday, "The Destroyer" is atomization at work, each track splintered suites that last as long as Twitter thoughts. Still, it retains a focus that bodes well for RareBit's future.

The full-length is slated for release this fall. In the meantime, there is "Aggro Crag," a slice of high-octane funk and ethereal vocals, disco, Oriental chimes, glitch and "G.U.T." jokes.  It holds together quite nicely.

Download (Pop & Hiss premiere): RareBit ft. Sandra Wallace-"Aggro Crag" [MP3]

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Critic's Notebook: Adele’s quiet power amid the pop girl riot

-- Jeff Weiss

Photo: Rarebit. Credit: Sean Ferris

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