Coming into 2015, I felt it was time to look at what direction music is heading for in the New Year. On the 1st of December, 2014, Silk Rhodes released their debut self-titled album. Producer Michael Collins and vocalist Sasha Desree met at a mutual friend’s party where folk songs were being played over Chat Roulette and there set a path for their soulful lunacy to begin. The two demonstrate a sense of minimalism, all while holding the listener with their diverse soulful voices and silky guitar rhythms brought from the back of a 97’ Honda.
Below, you can see an image representing the music they produce. The repeating loops of simplistic yet beautifully gripping inflections. There is a reoccurring theme of LSD in their work. This was something of no surprise with the name Silk Rhodes, referencing an online drug marketplace. Not to mention their previous drug pun projects, Run DMT and Salvia Plath. The duo from Baltimore are signed to Independent Californian record label Stones Throw, founded in 1996. The label are known for releasing critically acclaimed Hip Hop and Soul artists, such as Peanut Butter Wolf and Aloe Blacc. The use of looped beats give this album a classic hip-hop vibe with a soul infused jazz pace.
The musicians adapted their car into an impromptu recording studio. This allowed spontaneous session recordings while crossing through America and the desert armed with guitars and synthesisers. Describing themselves as “Wanderers” drawing inspiration from the places they take shelter, you start to hear this versatility in each unique melody. Making music where they could and adapting songs from the loops and jam sessions, Collins and Desree have exuded musical depth with an album for the modern traveller.
Behind the aesthetic of a stylised black and white music video, “Pains” is one of Silk Rhodes crisp new tracks from the debut album. I couldn’t help but hear the sound of their soothing rhythmic guitar replicating the haze of a distant desert horizon. The lyrics are simple but hold onto the listener with their stylised slow paced delivery through layered vocal tracks. The pacing is confident which manages to mesmerise rather than bore. I was glad to hear the band say themselves, that they bask in the cinematic quality of their music. They take influence from Italian film composers Ennio Morricone and Alessanadro Alessandroni who worked on the classic spaghetti Westerns of the 60s.
“Realtime” kicks in with a prominent drumbeat accompanied with loose jazz chords and an occasional touch of deep bass. The super chilled bell piano pleasantly feeds images of a smoky bar scene in downtown California, while “Face 2 Face” offers faster paced sharp chords of the disco genre. This song will keep you ensnared with the slapping bass’s prominence kick through the melodies. The only problem with this song is that it’s too short. Its infectious riff will get you tapping your feet and nodding your head for sure but be ready to hit that replay button when it comes to an all too quick (two and a half minute) end.
“Face 2 Face”:
Each song has an air of contemporary Hip Hop reminiscent of Childish Gambino’s slower tunes from Because the Internet and Tyler the creators’ Lazz influenced sound on Wolf. The sound of the 70’s is present throughout the album; it’s delicate loops creating an image of a warm Sunday afternoon sprawled across a distant space as the sun rests itself on the horizon.
Michael Collins has said that the album lends itself to “vocal processing, looping and long-form meditative music“. Which is quite clear when listening through. This album is a testament to true musicians. Their passionate spirit is something that shines through the mist of their enchanting electronic atmosphere; gentle echoed strums and mellow vocals.
Purchase: Silk Rhodes – Silk Rhodes (Album)
Words by Connor Carver-Carter // Edited by Ayo Adepoju