Lay-Far delivers once again with a stunning EP filled to the brim with surprising turns, wide spreading genre blending and sunny side up brilliance.
In this dense and sometimes hard to navigate musical landscape, it is those producers who stand at the intersections of genres who often stand out above the most. In time past, music experienced giant leaps forward, in turn to genres being created by drugs, inspiration from unusual sources, or in some cases, simply turning the right knob into the wrong wavelength. Before, giant leaps forward were often passed over due to geographical issues, genre related mishaps or perhaps just a general indifference to the music, an inability to distrust something so out there and different. We now look back at these musical milestones with a fond heart and a disappointment we may have not been able to capture that records energy at the time, but it is only really because we now have the gift of the internet to be able to source the rarities, alongside the ability to source through countless record collections filled with gems and milestone records. Bridging the gap, so it would seem, is now very much drawn from these historical understandings of what came before, who blended what with such and such, and many musicians and producers draw from this rich blending of styles as a source of inspiration for their own tunes. However, in the contemporary scene, the merger of styles has left us looking to the small steps forward rather than the giant leaps that only occurred perhaps because genres simply didn't exist. Producers these days who create the most compelling of music either spend a significant amount of their time tinkering with their systems of sound to craft unique music intrinsic to their core ideals, whilst the other look to the mergence of styles, blends and genres, like what came before. But these days, it remains more subtle, but those with a keen ear truly appreciate these records, and the people who make them, as the ones who move their respective genres forward, and in turn inspire the generation behind them to pick up some records they may have never listened before, to take but a mere nugget out of these sounds, inject it in, and create something new, fresh and exciting.
Since 2012, Russian producer Lay-Far has been crafting these kinds of moments. His style is very laid back, borrowing much from the 90s house sound as almost his perimeters for sound construction, but everything within is set far and wide, allowing himself to inject a vast array of genres into the mix. From Jazz house, to broken beat, to downtempo, to disco house, Lay-Far creates a proper sense of mood in his music, from the hazy chords that float but sing true, to the excellent construction of beats, there is a distinct style that threads it all together. But it is his willingness to look within, finding the spaces that can be populated by this or that, that make his records stand out. Its these spaces and areas that often allow for the slight differences and variations that make his work always a joy to listen to and engage with, allowing himself and us the listener to become immersed in the music through these constant additions and deviations to his sound. His discography is a long and varied one, but some particular highlights include his debut EP, the broad reaching 'Detour' release in 2012; the soft tonally excellent 'Green' EP from 2013; the brilliant breezy 'Communication' EP from 2014; the disco edit masterclass that is 'Even More Secret Weapons' from 2018; and both his debut LP, 2013's 'So Many Ways' and 2018's 'War is Over', which both give an indication of what an album lengths worth of material does to his style and approach to blending. In short, his records speak for themselves, a collection of tunes that soundtrack many a night and a mood, giving themselves over to us as a gift that just keeps on giving.
And now we arrive at his latest offering, the 'Seasons Change' EP. This one very much feels like a complete representation of all Lay-Far has been looking to achieve through his musical journey, a full and complete summary on all the styles he has looked to explore and emulate within his career. We get the sunny house feels, the big Brazilian disco riffs, the soft chordal arrangements, but there is always that space for the odd progression into new territories, where we once again get transported to new places, ready to explore and give ourselves over one more time. So lets dip into it.
Up first we have 'All Massive', and we are greeted to the fullest of intros. Chord progressions and a live band feel start off proceedings, with the vocal speaking some junglist notions over the beat. It descends into a full on swinging beat, a heavy hitting broken beat full of promise. The energy is high, and the feels are just so spot on, the instrumental work on top is gorgeous, with chiming keys and synth pads combining expertly to produce a vibeeeeee. Then it all descends into a full on junglist beat, the melodic elements stripped bare to reveal the innards of a track full to the brim with pure riddim. Lay-Far then transitions into the more soulful aspect of the track with ease, guiding us through this wonderful series of fluid emotive scenes, the freight train never once stopping for a minute. Its masterful, drawing from a wide pool of scenes and genres in order to achieve a track that just keeps on giving. The essence of the track never deviates too far in one direction, before Lay-Far decides to really give some time over to the junglist element, throwing all he has at it to really get the track moving. Its this kind of genre mashing that Lay-Far is widely celebrated for, but perhaps never before has he pulled it off with such skill and finesse, or indeed with such a contrast. A very strong start indeed. Up next comes 'Naive', which begins off in more well know Lay-Far territory. The riddim is suitably patched together, the beat allowing itself to accommodate a significant amount of other elements that sure enough descend quickly. The combo of rhythmic guitar interlaced with the backdrop of synth pads is magical, the guitar filling the room between the drums with ease, the keys just adding such depth and meaning to it all. The movements between sparseness and fullness again are so on point, with us waiting the full parts to extend forever so we can absorb all it has to offer. Theres so much intrigue, so much to catch our eye, the track is so infectious, the way its blended with the core beat means that when it all comes back in, you really really hear it. Damn.
Next up is 'Heartfelt', and we begin with the chordal work alongside some flutes running around on top. Then, the fast paced broken beat comes in, to give it all a backbone to work from, little key lines beautifully layered into place to provide the synths with a sense of urgency. Then it all cuts out, allowing for the synths and keys to fall away, and provide a sense of expansive atmosphere. The key word for this track is maybe expansive, as the producer looks to the drawn out method of telling the story through the subtle introductions of what is happening in and around the beat, with the drums remaining quite consistent throughout. This provides a great contrast to what we experienced before, where the two elements would work alongside each other to signal transitions. Here, the melodic elements remain the driving force, interchanging between densely layered horn arrangements to sparse key lines to pads and back round again. And we are all for that kind of vibe on this website! finally, we arrive at 'Where Would We Be', but only this time it is the dub version of his previously released track of the same name from 2014. The drumming is the immediate focus, driving fast and true, picking up all sorts of elements as it picks up momentum. The density begins to swell and peak, as the introduction of pads begins the track on its upward trajectory. The contrast between the singular pad with the progressions in the background, with the occasion vocal addition, make for a powerful series of tones, with the track seeming to drawn as much from its own internal energy as much as from external sources. The chordal work becomes the new focus, as it dips from its original arrangement through to variations and back again. The drums kick out for a minute, allowing for the fullness of the singular pads to be appreciated, before he pulls another direction change, introducing a series of soft jazz fusion chords that create yet another mood to be taken in, before it all swings right back into it. The track then just picks itself up, and moves into the deepness of the night. Wonderful.
An excursion into the depths of sound identity is very much on this record. Here, we see Lay-Far continue on with his quest to explore and expand, yet always stay true to his ideology of crafting unique and superb dance music that constantly searches and creates feels. The moods and transitions from this record are off the chain, where we move from the soft moments to the big moments to the moments where beat and chords work together to moments when they make way. A record that will delight so many, tracks that fit the mould, yet always surprise, indefinitely. Simply brilliant.
Check out some snippets and pre order here: