REVIEW: Sam Gellaitry, Viewfinder Vol. 1 Phosphene
Dan J. Wilcox
Scotland hasn’t received enough credit for upgrading electronic music over the past twenty years with its output of groundbreaking music and artists, particularly within the genres of hip hop, trap and future bass. Notable figures include Hudson Mohawke, who introduced a brutal, almost tribal vibe to trap, and Rustie (whose hiatus has been going on for too long…), for progressing these elements with a sound design that is unmatched in density. Stirling-based Sam Gellaitry is another catalyst for the future bass / trap genre, whose productions are maturing the sound to create something totally unique and exciting.
Two years on from his last album, Gellaitry has returned this year with a new selection of atmospheric, rich tracks that are a delight to listen to every time. Viewfinder Vol.1: PHOSPHENE feels like a love letter to all of Gellaitry’s influences and discoveries from the genesis of his career. The Asian plucked strings, shuffling percussions and evolving bass in the track ‘Viewfinder’ is akin to Flying Lotus’s Cosmograma (a seminal album for experimental hip hop records) and the jazz harmonies found in the track ‘NKLLT’ relate to the RnB 90s sound that has been incorporated from his house experimentations.
One element that Gellaitry has a talent for is control over bass. In his Escapism trilogy, 808 booms dominate drops that have the ability to create huge amounts of energy in each track. However with this release, Gellaitry has tightened his control even further, meaning that basses have evolved into a more natural timbre with guitars and tamer electronic undertones that give the melodic content more focus.
Gellaitry has explained that he takes inspiration from outdoor sounds when making his tracks, something which you can definitely hear on tracks like ‘Acres’, where the audible landscape transports the listener to an imaginary grassy, sunny mountain hike trail. This compilation takes the listener on a journey from exotic jungles saturated with vines to the realm of outer space with the futuristic sounds of tracks like ‘Neptune’.
Every detail on this release is so finely polished that every listen offers a unique experience. I cannot recommend this album enough - it’s very close to my album of the year. And if this is only Vol.1, who knows what we can anticipate from future volumes.