One of the best parts about instrumental music is its capacity to allow you to free-ball its meaning. I mean yes, to some extent theres an intended emotion and tone, but things are never as clear cut as a lyrical song. Especially with the genre of music I have come to dub as “chill electronica” – the atmosphere it tends to create is far more flexible and at times simply easier to slip into in allowing yourself to be coaxed and moved into a certain temperament. Today I bring you For What It’s Worth, a 20 track album of beautiful beats put together by the highly evasive and underground UK producer Vanilla.
In regards to my take on the genre, I believe Vanilla has quite simply mastered it. Listening to the album its strong points lie in its ability to wash over you and slowly move you into whatever emotion you want to cozy up to. Each song is crafted in such a way that theres a very clear idea behind it, but you can play with its significance. For What It’s Worth presents itself as an assortment of tunes that want you to take it easy and make a delightful compromise between your own emotions and the palette the song offers. It’s again, to keep with the season, a purely summer album. Theres a dreamlike wonder about the first few tracks that make you want to become that super chill summer person even if you actually generally tend to play up the ‘cold winter Bon Iver’ persona. Seriously, winters done, pour yourself some summer wine and rent a HOUSEBOAT damnit (If you don’t have the funds, sit on your porch and simply drink a Stella for nearly the same effect).
I’d also like to take this moment and call dibs on this entire album to someday rap over. Yeah. This shit is rap backbeat gold. The tracks are all short and melodic reeling you in and stopping right when you think it’s going to crossover into being a fully fledged lengthy song. The thing is though, it shouldnt be, and Vanilla cuts each tune right where he’s supposed to. The tracks are meant to be breezy, briefly spark your interest and let you drift comfortably into the next piece without losing composure. Alongside the mellow vibe of the whole album several tracks bring with it jazz and a fair bit of light soul. You may notice now that when it comes to electronica, I will fight you all in my argument that nothing blends better with the genre than some jazz and funk.
My absolute favourite song on the entire album is going to have to be ‘Touch’. Essentially all the things that make summer both wonderful and strange can be heard in this gorgeous track which closes For What It’s Worth. Bringing together the playful and suggestive aura of the season, ‘Touch’ speaks to the foolish and carefree wonder that seeps through this time of year. ‘Azure’ (posted first) is a close second for best track, playing with a more melancholy sincerity than ‘Touch’, ‘Azure’ forms the other half of summer humidity – change, loss and reflection. So then I suppose that though the album is essentially just 20 short electronic tracks which don’t exactly require rigorous analysis and focus, you cannot deny Vanilla’s ability to, using a carefully constructed but simple sounding melody, make the listener appreciate the texture of a genre often dubbed as one-dimensional by its critics.
Chilltronica can be exactly what you want it to be – houseboating, beer sipping, lounge music, or maybe it’ll give you the musical space required to step back and get real close to your feelings. I personally like to use For What It’s Worth for both reasons. Please check out Vanilla’s other albums as well and keep a look out for some more of his projects coming out this year. I’ll leave you with this track :
You moving or what?