fyvr almost happy

fyvr almost happy
8
Judging by his online presence, Maine-based Michigan native fyvr has explored the muffled depths of his lo-fi aesthetic quite prolifically over the last few years, and almost happy is a good summation of his SoundCloud and Bandcamp material: hazy, undulating synth beds layered over deconstructed hip-hop beats, knit together by infectiously laid-back electro-funk bass lines. It's a winning formula that fyvr is clearly confident in, giving the album an assured ease that dovetails nicely with the laid-back vibe of the genres themselves — a nice trick.
 
There's always a danger of meandering, uninspired results in this particular style, where a lo-fi aesthetic (recorded to cassette, for instance) and a few vintage analogs are sometimes seen as the only prerequisites. Thankfully, fyvr hits all the right genre notes while simultaneously modulating their negative tendencies. This means keeping the tracks short, free of generic, scratchy chill-wave samples, and with an emphasis on melody and movement as opposed to ad nauseam hypnosis.
 
Indeed, despite its relaxed vibe, almost happy is always moving confidently towards its next strength, usually another awesome G-funk-inspired bass line. This latter influence runs throughout the album (much as it did on Devonwho's similarly excellent Luz), and may just be the key ingredient to this crowded style. In any event, it provides a strong backbone to the proceedings here.
 
Some tracks may feel slightly undercooked, but they're always short, and always feature at least one redeeming quality, making it difficult to tire of them. That said, the most exciting moment comes in "open-source ignorance," the one longer, more expansive offering buried towards album's end. fyvr takes the time to build something truly great here, culminating in an epic moment of multilayered improv before suddenly stripping everything down to a naked bass groove that heads in a new direction while still sounding like it was hidden underneath the whole time.
 
It's a real triumph, and provides a glimpse of fyvr's capabilities were he to set his sights on more complex forms. Diminishing returns may loom otherwise, but for now, fyvr is navigating the genre well. (Young Heavy Souls)