High Tides’ new record comes out on Anticon stalwart Tobacco’s label – Rad Cult – and my initial impressions of the record it appears that they are two sides of the same coin: High Tide exemplify the more languid side of Tobacco’s erratic oeuvre, but are no less compelling for it.
Tapping into the same summery, stoner aesthetic as chillwave bands like Washed Out, their hyper melodic electronic music lacks the complacency of their contemporaries. No zeitgeists are being chased here.
Indeed, what sets High Tides apart from their peers in the sense of melancholy that underpins this whole record, gurgling synthesizers on ‘Swaying Palms’ recall Air at their most bleary eyed – it’s a beach record with one eye on the inevitable Winter. For all of its superficial Chillwave signifiers, dig a little deeper and Paradise Daze is abundant with references to British and European electronic music of the nineties and noughties. ‘Summer Reflection’ uses the same vocabulary as the very best Orbital records, ‘Midnight Cove’ has a sparse, folky arrangement which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Four Tet record
Kroll and Lutes began working on this shortly after the completion of the last record, hailed by Spin Magazine as “a version of chillwave where the drugs of choice were opioid rather than cannabinoid.” Paradise Daze took nearly four years to refine, although unlike its predecessor High Tides, it was largely recorded with both Midwest-raised artists in the same room. There was a conscious decision to avoid tape degradation without compromising their innately wonky and warped style. This attention to detail is very apparent – sonically it’s incredibly immersive; a record you can bathe in.
There is a tangible creeping darkness here that only occasionally appears on their debut, which contributes to the compelling sense of contradictions on the record. It’s something you could put on at a party, in as much as it feels designed to soundtrack a comedown. Sonically it feels optimistic and paranoid in equal measure, ‘Silver Strand Lulls‘ is electronic lunge music with drum machines and waves of dissonance that never quite live up to their threat.
In that sense, Paradise Daze feels timely; it’s chaotic, familiar and alien. It is at times easy listening while being dense and unnerving. It’s certainly one of the most understatedly immersive electronic records I have heard so far in 2019.