Despite concerningly high November temperatures, summer has never felt farther away in either direction.
Long gone are the days of blowing off your internship to spend a day soaking up rays, breezes and mimosas at the beach.
Lying in the recesses of your brain are nights lit by bonfires, inundated with the sounds of embers and friends’ dazed murmurings.
It’s been so fucking long since you’ve last gotten trashed at Chaser’s margaritas on a Wednesday with zero repercussions.
Listening to local beat maker Engelwood’s new EP, however, surges these memories back to the forefront. On Pastel Beach, Engelwood, a.k.a Univeristy of Wisconsin student Matt Engels, finesses his sun-soaked instrumental hip-hop just right; evoking memories of summer’s highlights while avoiding saccharinity.
Engelwood combines crisp snares, guitar twangs and soulful horns to give his tracks their bright, at times blinding, shimmer. This is none more evident than on the leading track, “sparkle.”
What really gives the tracks their core is his use of vocal samples. On “Universal,” with an assist from collaborator Jeff Kaale, Engelwood intertwines chopped up female vocals with a soul-stirring synth pattern to create a soul-soothing experience.
“La la la” is another good example. On this offering the producer slows things down, employing a simple guitar, perhaps ukelele, loop and detached vocals to slow things down.
Overall Engelwood imposes little on his music in terms of categorization. He drifts from Nujabes-style hip-hop to upbeat dance music reminiscent of The Avalanches. It’s what makes Pastel Beach such a breath of fresh air overall. One can only hope Engelwood will continue to do his thing.