VA: Show Me The Future
Friends of Friends

In which the Friends of Friends imprint invited some of its favourite forward-thinking producers to contribute material, hinting at what a possible future for electronic music might look like. The resultant thiry-one-minute compilation suggests that the future's in good hands, with all seven tracks evidencing a high level of craft and imagination and a skilful way of drawing from the past as a means for forging fresh new pathways.

An initial surprise is how restrained some of the material is. DJAO, the nom de plume of Seattleite Alex Osuch, eases us in gently with the hazy “Time To Stop Waiting,” a supple blend of soothing atmosphere and subtle soundsculpting. For four minutes, feathery, high-pitched vocals, electric guitars, and percussion work themselves into a swooning lather that's insistent without being overly aggressive. The bubbly “Stays,” a widescreen phantasmagoria by Evenings (Nathan Broaddus), is pitched at a similar dreamcasting level, its apparent goal being more to serenade than overwhelm the listener (a feeling reinforced by the presence of seaside sounds alongside the expected scenepainting). Brandon Trude pushes the intensity level to a higher plane with his Pcoat cut “Division,” however, when beats assert themselves more strongly but not so much that they overpower the wealth of accompanying percussive and atmospheric detail. NY-based Michael Morrison, who's attracted attention for a series of twelve-inch releases on LA label 100% Silk, contributes the aptly titled Octo Octa cut “Smooth West” to the set. Claps, bleepy synths, vocal fragments, and a frothy backbeat nicely come together for one of the release's sunnier jams, after which Kid Smpl (Seattleite Joey Butler) caps the set with a suitably wintry outro “Snowscape.”

It's all solid stuff but to these ears two cuts stand out slightly from the crowd. Halifax, Nova Scotia producer Ryan Hemsworth serves up one of the EP's choicest moments in “An Overture Might Help Me Stop Thinking About You,” a sampledelic feast that merges a popping hip-hop pulse with suitably grandiose orchestral elements. Another strong outing comes from Dreams (NY-based Jesse Pimenta) whose “IN2U” (“I've been into you for such a long time”) updates Luomo's Vocalcity for 2013 in spinning soulful vocal riffs, Rhodes accents, and a jittery groove into a ravishing deep house dynamo. It'll be interesting to witness what these producers create in the days to come.

February 2013