The relieving ease that washes over you once coming to terms with something heavy, that sigh of relief, that release of pressure - is what Home sounds like. Typically, noir atmosphere can be intense, paranoid, even disaffected- but Home is quite chill. It's not dark in the way something can be emotional or romantic, it's dark in the way a room has the lights off. Home is the still of the night, Home is when the dust settles. That's not to say Four Hands's Home is without feeling, some of the dub beats and samples sound vaguely inspired by soul and always seem to carry that encouraging pique of possibility. There's a little bit of 1994's "Selected Ambient Works Vol 2" by Aphex Twin and hints of late 90's drum 'n' bass, like LTJ Bukem's "Progression Sessions" with MC Conrad. More recent similarities can be found in late 00's downtempo dub like Burial, Nosaj Thing and Pantha du Prince.
Josh Lucio, aka Four Hands, is a member of San Antonio's beat collective Sub.Culture, a group of electronic music performers, producers and DJs. This Friday night at Ritual Art Gallery, Sub.Culture will celebrate the release of Four Hands' debut EP, Home, with Hedknodic, Domesr, Guidance & X!. The official release date for the new EP is Tuesday May 26, where it will be available on iTunes, Spotify and most other digital outlets. But on Friday night, a limited amount of purple cassettes will be available to those who attend the release party.
Home has a very focused tone throughout the record. The beats are dubby yet not overly electronic, they almost have a performed, analogue feel. Also, the songs are not saturated with effects, a lot of current electronic music amounts to effects porn, which Home steers clear of. The production quality and mastering of the EP is high quality and professional. Yet, Home is the definition of a bed-room production: I "never really had a legit work space or even studio monitors for that matter." Lucio said. Which is amazing considering how crisp and clear the recordings sound: "A couple of other members from Sub.culture mastered my tracks for me, Nick Ruiz (Tefnyk) and Aaron Pena (OOH YEA) did an amazing job making the EP sound full."
I asked Josh about the creation, production & story behind Home and why he chose to release a cassette:
"I'll go through old records and record little snippets from my mixer, then run effects through and arrange them in fruity loops. Once in a while I'll borrow my friend's mpk-mini but nothing fancy."
"I didn't have a plan at first to put any material out. All the songs on the EP were recorded at different times through out last year which was probably one of the roughest for me personally. Writing music was more therapeutic than anything. I would just work on tracks when I was bummed or maybe had a little too much to drink and the end result was Home. I had about 15 songs finished from that time period but I chose the tracks that I felt more of a connection to or were written around some of the worst parts of last year."
"I've always enjoyed physical copies of movies and music since I'm big on collecting things. I never got into downloading off iTunes or listening to music on Spotify. I feel more connected to music when I'm actually able to hold it."
"When I was growing up, the only way I could listen to new releases was through cassette tapes. The CD player would constantly break or the CDs were scratched so I would just sit in front of the little sound system set up we had at home and listen to my mom's cassettes. I still collect them and use to have a little collection before they were all stolen, so I thought it would only be fitting to have my first official release on cassette."
With no commanding vocal arrangement, Home is almost entirely instrumental, "I enjoy music without vocals and that's obviously reflected in this release. I think you can tell a better story through instrumentals, plus it's up to the individual to interpret it and I think that's what makes it a more personal experience."
Void of pretension and all aggression, the darkness juxtaposed with relaxed & comfortable sounds make Home one of the most accessible, leave-on-repeat-while-I-write-all-night EPs I've heard in recent memory. San Antonio cannot miss this release from the Sub.Culture collective and the debut of Four Hands.