Northern Transmissions review of 'Aphelion' EP by Ross From Friends

Brainfeeder

8.0/10

Ross From Friends

Aphelion EP

With a deluge of vaporwave coming out of the online sphere this days, it’s surprising how different the genre can sound through the talents of a tireless professional. For the latest EP from Ross From Friends, the producer lets sound and tone take centre-stage for a record that really feels immersive and fully fleshed out. Though it’s certainly still a niche listen, you’ll be hard pressed to find it inaccessible by any means.

The glossy production of the album gives tracks like “Don’t Wake Dad” an absolutely sublime feeling that makes every listen an enveloping and immersive experience. Whether you listen to it for the dance or experimental qualities, the song continuously feeds into both aspects excitedly. Though it’s definitely a patient song in terms of variety, the ways its sound evolves constantly show a different facet to the sound. The percussion itself is particularly powerful, especially in the rare fills laid throughout the piece. Even in its outro of animal sounds, there’s never a feeling of filler content as the album slips into a more relaxed groove.

This calm feeling oozes into “John Cage” as a narration suggests you into a meditative state on the beach, all covered in its lo-fi synth sheen. As the beat comes in with a slow-beating guitar and washes of chimes, it seems like might hold this energy for its whole run. But when the vocal loop comes in the song really gains a momentum, and starts to match its laidback tone with a slinky sense of melody and rhyhtm. Though it dives into a more menacing voice at times, the song drives an evolving sense of grandeur as even guitars shriek out with echoing yell.

“There’s A Hole In My Heart” slowly builds on its simple beat and hook, letting drums spiral in and out of the track until there’s a whole network of conversing drums bouncing around. Right as the synth lines start to sing, the vocals call in and out of their affected voices to provide a whole new layer to the song. Through the organic ambiance and a more auto-tuned vocal hook, the song hits its second half as it begins to include a more steady beat and sequencers that belt out like rain. Each unique little synth riff feels like its own character and gives the track a constantly bouncing energy.

There’s a subversively empty sound at the beginning of “March” that lets the song grow on you as it simply builds its own energy forward. Its intoxicating club beats start to expand into more complex mesh-works and often match the keyboards in a strangely melodic way. Though it features less unique details throughout than many songs on this EP, the focus on getting a perfect sound out of each core instrument really makes this track soar. This makes each vocal line feel important and massive in sound and keeps the track constantly grabbing and memorable.

Words by Owen Maxwell