Published Oct 24, 2018When you look at minuscule size of Hamilton, ON (just over half-a-million people), it's amazing how the city produces such a glut of talent. Orphx, Jessy Lanza and Junior Boys have all come out of the Hammer, and while Taraval (aka Ryan Smith) is now based in San Francisco, he's from there too. Not only that, but he fully deserves to be ushered in the same breath as those aforementioned Steel City stalwarts — and did we mention he's been a regular member of Caribou's touring band for years?
After debuting on Four Tet's Text Records back in 2014, Smith has gone on to collaborate with Jeremy Greenspan for an off-kilter, and unfortunately so-so, EP in 2017, as well as a much more solid release on Hypercolour earlier this year. Taraval isn't exactly a household name, but if this latest EP tells us anything, it's that he's someone to keep an eye on.
The opening title track says it all: a perfect mix of playful and laudable. It's so colourful that you could put it on at any time of day — it wouldn't be surprising if someone has it as their alarm clock, nor would anyone bat an eye if it was dropped in a club at 4 a.m. No wonder that the likes of Floating Points, Daphni and a host of others have been dropping it into their sets all summer.
While "Aardvark" is a stunning opener, it's by no means downhill from there. "Pumpkin" has a sharper techno edge to it, but it's still rife with neon squiggles that dull the blade just enough. Closer "Basketball Cookie," with its incessant barrage of blips, bloops and whistles, is by far the most psychedelic of the three. Hallucinatory or no, however, these are all bangers in their own right; they're fast and club-ready, with BPMs ranging from 129 all the way up to 138.
Aardvark has as much oomph, fun, and trippiness as one could expect from a three-track EP. If this one doesn't make you take note of Taraval's antics, we're not sure what will. (Text)