Ross From Friends – Family Portrait
- David Pollock
- 19 July 2018
Take a look at those soft-focus promo photos of Felix Clary Weatherall in his knitted jumpers against a backdrop of dated wallpaper, and consider his background in the bedroom-produced lo-fi movement alongside that other great '90s television throwback DJ Seinfeld, and you might be forgiven for thinking he's taking the mickey just a bit. Yet this debut album on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder is, as the title suggests, a deeply personal work, and one which pays affectionate tribute to his own family history.
Raised in Colchester, Essex, Weatherall is the son of parents who met touring Europe in an old bus with mutual friends during the 1980s, while his dad (not the producer Andrew Weatherall, before you ask) played Hi-NRG and nascent techno music at squat parties on a soundsystem which he'd designed himself. This lo-fi rave sound feeds into Weatherall's own productions, yet the sense of nostalgia which clearly went into making it has been overtaken on record by a textured, minimal sense of contemporary electronic composition.
The title track itself bears the tinny, tripping drum machine beat of an old ambient track by The Orb, for example, but the execution is more in line with the sparse, dubby production of Jamie xx. 'Pale Blue Dot', whose charming video features Weatherall's mother's old footage of the European journey, marries the most basic, artificial beat it's possible to imagine with a sparkling, insistent keyboard line, while the jokily-named 'Don't Wake Dad' is summertime R&B reimagined through the most rudimentary of programming.
If words like 'simple' and 'sparse' keep coming up in reference to Weatherall's music, however, that kind of takes away what he does that's so special, which is employing a dense and thoughtful sense of compositional instinct. This gives his tracks hooks as lovely as the skipping whistle which runs through the driving 'Project Cybersyn', and a sense of drama like the bastardised bedroom Balearic techno of 'R_A_T_S'. That he can make sounds so inorganic breathe with a sense of summertime warmth and nostalgia is evidence of no mean talent.
Out Fri 27 Jul on Brainfeeder. Ross From Friends plays Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Sat 15 Sep.