Breezy, experimental sunset techno vibes from the L.A.-based Portable Sunsets.
Portable Sunset’s new EP Rental for Amsterdam-cum-Belin based label Atomnation is five tracks of electronic referencing techno that moves between Analord-esq jams, vibe-y organic experimentations, and lush, introspective, minimal house.
Portable Sunsets music come across as both accessible and challenging at the same time, with both poles of his personality clearly on show over the course of the five tracks on offer. The influence of seminal British institutions such as Rephlex, Warp and Planet Mu (in its IDM days) is evident, but without wearing it too loudly so as to become pastiche, which so many producers fall foul of, with legions of them churning out mediocre replications of important avant-garde artists.
Opening number “Islander (Version)” launches straight into action with a tight, bouncy, electro-meets-techno drum machine groove combining with a chunky, analogue sounding synth sequence and mournful harmony. The tune breaks down, for lack of a better description, slowing rebuilding itself back up and smoothly dropping into a wonderfully delicious melodic release of the opening synth sequence.
“Feelings” is all gamelan and bell vibes that noodle along for a bit in a fairly random, dissonant in its execution, melodic in its design, kind of way, whilst “Home Late” reflects its title well, with a big ambient synth trill basically beckoning the stilted heat of the morning LA sun in through your window at 6am after a big night of ravey fun times. The track reveals itself to be a fairly funky electro house number with a twinkly, yet moribund arpeggio brilliantly capturing that disorientating feeling you get whilst trying to get to sleep after said night out; otherworldly blue lights flickering in your peripherals, shadows of things that may or may not be there darting in front of your perception, disappearing into nothing as you swivel your head to see what’s up.
“Light Switch” is seemingly bathed in a bath of home-recorded ambiance which gives the track a lovely warm feeling. The minimal, beatless arrangement really lets its individual elements sing and dissolve into nothing, with a strange repeating drone, snippets of hummed singing and Rhodes-y organ notes complimenting the skeletal arrangement and tune.
“Loft Mentality” is a breezy number that wants you to drift away on its ambient bed of repeating arps, chanted intonations and organic bass tones. The tune is a great illustration of Portable Sunsets production style. Nothing seems loopy or lazy despite the club centric, dance-y nature of the genres he works within. The drums knock rather than bump, giving the tune a strange warehouse vibe its accompanying instrumentation doesn’t back up creating a lovely juxtaposition of styles and feeling – especially when the '80s synth brass melody gets to play.
Basically Portable Sunsets makes ambient beat music with club-ready drums. He has seemingly soaked up the sunset hip-hop vibes of his adopted home and combined that aesthetic with a European techno vibe in fine style. The results are good, but I feel that “Feelings” is a bit out of place and probably more of an album track than an EP one. All things said this is a lovely addition to the Atomnation roster and I expect to hear more good things from Portable Sunsets in the future.