Released 09 October 2013
I’ve always associated certain music with one of the four seasons, almost in a cliché fashion: boisterous, carefree music for the summer; pretty, somber, or organic music for the fall; everything from black metal to intimate electronic music for the snowy winter time; adventurous and loud tunes for the blossoming spring. In the case of some artists, like California hip-hop duo Friendzone, I learn to see the seasons in a brand new light, beyond the immediately obvious traits. The music that Friendzone makes can be associated with autumn, summer, winter or spring, and I say this because they create vibes that can’t easily be pigeonholed or associated with a single entity. With music this textured and intimate, there exists a timeless exuberance, an ever-changing garden of sentimentality that blooms, flourishes and dies with the four seasons, but reminds that all will come about brand new again someday. This is music that celebrates life and friendship itself.
When talking about the name they chose for themselves on their Facebook page, Friendzone said “our name doesn’t mean that sexist bull*** regarding girls putting “nice guys” in the friendzone. It’s always meant your inner circle….” They took the term and gave it a more literal meaning: a zone of friends. A realm, your realm, where your closest friends coexist peacefully and side-by-side, and simply where nothing else matters. In other words, euphoria.
And euphoric is a fine term to apply to James Laurence and Dylan Reznick’s custom brand of instrumental hip-hop beats. In reality though, “hip-hop beats” is far too simple a term to use to describe Friendzone’s sound. Here is music that requires a certain taste for chopped-up samples, because there are a lot of them to be found on DX. On last year’s Collection I saw the duo creating music that was suitable for rap artists to record their verses over (such as Main Attrakionz). On DX, Friendzone trades in that possibility for more solidified, fully-realized songs that max out on their potential as instrumental pieces, leaving little room for raps to be inserted and instead relying more on themselves as composers to polish the songs off. The resulting sound is more accomplished than their 2012 mixtape, and sees the duo fully exploring their sound spectrum, which is a great thing to see from someone that possessed so much potential.
If Friendzone could be associated with a single season, autumn wouldn’t be a bad choice at all. Sunsets adorn our skies earlier this time of year, and this is definitely music for sunsets. In particular, this is music for partly cloudy evenings, colored vivaciously with purples and oranges as a parting gift from the fleeting sun. It is also the soundtrack for the dim, runny-nosed walk home with your friends after a day out on Halloween. Cold from the highly electronic aesthetic, yet warm with a deeply human touch that can only be described as friendship manifesting through the music. It seems strange, seeing as petite, broken and scattered J-pop vocal samples are one of the few things you could directly label as human-sounding on the album, but DX has a way of making you feel something anyway, in spite of the processed atmosphere and against the forces of the album’s bizarre nature. DX is built up from heartbroken pianos, off-kilter beats and abstract composition, and the album possesses the same distorted essence as a scenic autumn evening, leaves breaking off and dying in a colorful fashion, as if martyrs for man’s senses, and the bittersweet feeling of remorse and hope for your perennial surroundings. Life cycles onward, and you have your closest companions to make the journey with.
You can stream and download the album (name-your-price) off of Friendzone’s bandcamp page http://friendzone.bandcamp.com/music