Ross From Friends - Aphelion Album Review

  • 06 April 2018

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

April 1st is traditionally a time for the media to throw out some gems of deceit with which to bait their audience; the problem is that in the clickbait/fake news avalanche that is our now daily lives sorting fact from fiction is becoming increasingly harder to do.

Felix Clary Weatherall is a British producer busily releasing material under the name Ross From Friends for the last three years, during which he's cross-stacked genres ranging from hip-hop, 80s Eurobeat, Hi-NRG and Italo house to create a rich seam of lo-fi house on labels such as Distant Hawaii and Magicwire. With all due respect to them, however, 'Aphelion' as his first outing for Flying Lotus' renowned Brainfeeder imprint is probably his career apex so far, one apparently left in ruins after a piece released via Mixmag claiming that David Schwimmer - yes, Ross From Friends - had filed a defamation suit over Weatherall's supposed pilfering of samples from the unbearably smug sitcom.

All, however, wasn't what it seemed - or maybe, given the date, it was - but as the clues to a hoax stacked up, the exclusive written by "Donna Von Bloogerstein" finally revealed itself as just a neat bit of press to warm us up for this landmark moment, representing on a label Weatherall himself has said "Constantly grabs my attention with every release".

In reality it's hard to imagine anyone let alone one of the world's most typecast actors being offended by 'Aphelion''s gentle four track haze, each laid in slabs of typically understated chill, from the soulful floor-ready pads of opener 'Don't Wake Dad', 'There's A Hole In My Heart''s twisted, bittersweet refrain and slightly out of focus spirit to closer 'March''s shadowy, retro chill wave vibes.

Throughout Ross/Felix reveals he was "trying to explore the explosive sound that the label is known for" and whilst there's little sign of the glitch or mind-rattling breakology of some of his forbears, its reputation for the unorthodox is saluted on 'John Cage'. Opening with a monologue snaffled from a DIY hypnotherapy session, before morphing into what its creator describes as "goofy hip hop", it's 'Aphelion''s best moment and, not coincidentally, the messiest. The trick here seems to be having an idea that's not given too long to gestate before being thrown down on tape.

Spontaneity and experimentalism are the touchstones of today's more interesting vectors in electronic music, both easy to dive into and easier to break. 'Aphelion''s PR might be a little shonky, but the product itself is a treat for any ear not autotuned to the normal.