VA: Proximity One: Narrative of a City

With Proximity One: Narrative of a City, LA-based Proximal Records introduces its label with an impressive eighteen-cut collection of laconic head-nodders. LA denizens Carl Madison Burgin (aka Sahy Uhns) and composer-producer Jeff Elmassian established Proximal as a vehicle for promoting established voices and up-and-comers in the local electronic music scene, namely beat-makers like DaM-FunK, Teebs, TOKiMonsta, Shlohmo, Sahy Uhns, Benedek, Lawrence Grey, Wake, and BearClaw. No doubt most of the contributors' names will be well-known within the community from which Proximity One originates; Daedelus and Take are two, at least, who'll be familiar to those outside the scene. Think sample-heavy instrumental hip-hop oozing ample doses of funk, crunk, and click-hop and you're on the right track.

The laconic mood's nicely set by Benedek's downtempo “Laser Forest,” all slo-mo, bass-prodded synth-funk flourishes, and DaM-FunK's jubilant “A Day at the Carnival.” Following that we get deep crunk-funk from Sahy Uhns (“Fire Music”) and an aromatic blend of shuddering strings, voice murmurs, and flutes from TOKiMonsta (“Cigarette Lust”). Elsewhere, Wake's “Buttabump” serves up a twisted third cousin to Dabrye's “Smoking the Edge,” a pipa's twang lends Shlohmo's “Glue Stick” an exotic edge, and “Conversations with Yesterday” presents three serenading minutes of Take's artful beatsmithing. The sunshine and sparkle of the LA locale infuses the material such that in place of a frenetic NYC vibe we get laid-back splendour (Daedelus's trippy “Off Angles Edges” and Dr. Strangeloop's electro-mutation “Strange Utopia” the exceptions), and sharp production skills are on full display throughout. Also recommending the release is the fact that most of the tracks are in the three-minute range, meaning that each states its case with admirable dispatch and then steps aside. Not a bad opening salvo from the Proximal camp, all things considered.

September 2010