Something about a beer on a blissed-out summer evening. No, wait- something about a beer on a blissed-out summer evening on the west coast. Those visiting always come around to commenting on the pace, as do those returning home and remembering what they’d missed. What’s the hurry? Those battles between the trees and mountains and the islands and ocean- oh yeah, and then the huge one taking place between the battles themselves- well, they are all taking their time (geologic) and we can only fight against that so much. K-Rec gets this and I would say that his recent “Third Beach” EP is proof of that.
Released last month, I am insistent that the influence of time and place was vital to the final product. Us here on the west coast are just finishing off the most consistently gorgeous/oppressive summer that anyone can remember. Who can think straight in this kind of heavy heat? Certainly not me; the EP’s been out for nearly a month, I knew I had the task of reviewing it, and yet now is the best I could do. Where’s the logic in that? Don’t worry: there is none, so you can just move on.
Thankfully, there are great things to report on. Aside from it being a fitting soundtrack to an exceptional summer, it has reasons to keep you listening well into fall and to give it spins again next year once we do it all over again. Somehow, K-Rec has accomplished that timeless pacing that comes across as both immediate yet patient, simultaneously upfront yet relaxed. It’s like a glacier, albeit a melting one. Moreover, the tracks are actually brief despite their pacing. The sketch-like quality to the instrumental passages leave you wanting more of the place depicted, much in the same way Boards of Canada tease you with mere glimpses into worlds you didn’t know you wanted to be in. In fact, Boards of Canada is a good reference point, given their tendency for field recordings. Blissful surf and beach-going excerpts feature prominently, sometimes appearing to run continuously throughout the entirety of songs. Vinyl cracks and surf blend together so well, you give up trying to discern between them. The end result is that you have no choice but to be “with” the place.
And why wouldn’t you want to, really? From the get-go, environment is key, but it’s always the place to be. “Introduction” pits the beach up against jump-cut soul samples to ease us in yet keep the interest. The dreamy, lazy vocals of Chaplyn cascade all over the first proper track, “Best Foot.” The warm, optimistic R&B vibes feel reminiscent of Blackalicious, with the lax xylophone moments conjuring images of nocturnal pool ripples illuminating on nearby surfaces. She may be speaking actual words in there somewhere, but that hardly seems like the point.
Next comes “My Loves,” the highlight, the keeper, the catchiest of the bunch. At barely 3 minutes, it leaves you longing, like any true moment of bliss. K-rec loops and layers brief soul and orchestral excerpts to create a singular moment that keeps you essentially in a wash. Checkmate delivers verses that complement the vibe, the take-away moment still that detached, semi-obscure line that somehow serves as a chorus- “I’m floatin’ in and out of consciousness and they sayin’ I’m ___…” It has the right amount of “there” and an intriguing amount of “gone.”
As far as instrumentals go, “Jealous” takes even more center stage than the vocal songs. A mish-mash of upbeat soul samples functions like the kind of intermissions that are bent on sustaining and carrying your interest over rather than giving you a break. This somehow carries well into “Confused,” a dual guest vocal track between Heatwave and Lamar Ashe that is noticeably more relaxed. Environment is still key and this is emphasized with a chorus built-up of soothing airy frequencies, be them synth, voice, sample or other. The active ear to the production, that of constant alterations to the beats and samples, is reminiscent of the RZA in earlier Wu-Tang Clan, especially in the way that location becomes a voice itself. It makes me wonder what “Enter the Wu” would have sounded like were it channeling daytime on the rural west coast rather than nighttime in the eastern urban epicenter. Probably not nearly as pissed off and great. Regardless, it’s not actually worth considering. “Happiness” closes the bunch, carrying on in the same vein as the introductory and intermediary instrumentals. “Let the music take your mind” is the soulful mantra that lingers as the tidbit of soul samples and beats fades out into whatever your brain hedonistically wants to do next.
So, the ultimate question: why would I bother to give another click to the little forward-facing arrow button on Soundcloud? Really: with all of that new stimulation available to me, why would I? Well, with that perfect soundtrack vibe, the rich array of soul and r&b sampling, an optimism faithfully consistent with other west coasters Blackalicious, song titles that evoke the basic emotions that someone brain-dead from the heat would be restricted to expressing, a risk-free duration that doesn’t even break 20 minutes, and a song as undeniably catchy and dreamy as “My Loves,”… why… wouldn’t… I?
So, here we go. Cheers.