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  • Filed under: Review
  • 10/24/2012

Shelter Point Forever For Now EP

It seems as though Hotflush plucked Shelter Point from complete obscurity. The Nottingham duo, listed simply as Liam and Robin, had virtually nothing to its name before Hotflush posted "Braille" on SoundCloud following the announcement of the pair's debut EP. One of the only Shelter Point tracks floating around the internet is a remix of R&B singer JMSN, but based on that song alone, it's hard to see how the producers stood out amongst the throngs of artists dropping bass-heavy and screwed-down R&B reworks into the ether. However, that mystery quickly melts away when listening to the duo's debut record, the four-track Forever For Now EP, which showcases how Liam and Robin set themselves apart from the crowd of artists exploring lush, pillowy low end and drip-dropping percussion.

Lead single "Braille" finds Shelter Point drawing from a familiar palette of sounds but ducking away from the zeitgeist by arranging them with an eye for minimalism and restraint. The whirring, layered synths, bare-bones, garage-influenced beat, and croonish singing are common components following the lead of artists like Mount Kimbie. However, the duo distinguishes itself from peers such as Disclosure and Bondax by scaling everything back to almost a whisper. "Braille" uses hackneyed sounds like swelling synths and tinkling percussion, but there's a sense of muted control that favors spacious, airy, and quiet productions over zooming synths and pitched vocal samples.

In fairness, the pair does take a more overstated path on "Hold on Me," but the track still feels notably subdued. The song is brimming with noise—there are dizzy synths, plink-plonking notes, and crisp drum hits—but the duo allows the yawning vocals and meaty, grinding bass to speak loudly rather than packing a ton of different elements into the tune. The only time the partners' production feels too cramped is on "Sleep Easy," which pits ungainly and heavily edited singing against a lurching beat, squalling vocal samples, rattling snares, and whirling synth notes. But even at its most bloated, Shelter Point's songwriting is hypnotizing and the duo's choice to experiment with attention-grabbing vocal performances is fresh and intriguing. For the most part, the singing is quiet and tender, and stands out against the duo's stark instrumentals, particularly on "Forever For Now." The influence of James Blake certainly looms large over the pair's minimalistic soundscapes and crooning vocal performances, but Shelter Point nonethless manages to distinguish itself from the throngs of Blake devotees.

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