Ross From Friends

The Outsiders

BY Josh ShermanPublished Jul 26, 2017

Creators of vapourwave, that micro-genre featuring chopped-and-screwed disco, muzak and other maligned genres accompanied by Windows 95 imagery, often give the impression they've just discovered the vintage sounds they sample: "Wouldn't it be funny to sample Chic?" The music sometimes comes across as flippant, even if the vapourwave aesthetic (apparently the aping of old commercial material is a capitalist criticism) isn't.
Despite Felix Weatherall's decidedly vapourwave moniker — the '90s sitcom-referencing Ross From Friends — this UK-born producer appears to approach his craft earnestly. He's unmistakably well versed in house and techno's history, and it shows on his latest EP, The Outsiders.
The most conventional of the batch, title track "The Outsiders" is a crunchy Chicago house thumper. New-wavey synths materialize after the three-minute mark of the marathon song, but they aren't a punch line. In fact, these hazy synths are a trademark of the six-song 12-inch; A-side opener "Crimson" sets the tone early on, like Harvey Sutherland as heard through a Sony Walkman. 
Niche as Ross From Friends' lo-fi sound is, tracks vary, from the chilled-out, made-for-VHS house of "D1RT BOX" to the atmospheric tropical journey "Romeo, Romeo." Only "Suzinak," on which a confusingly placed sitar recording cancels out promising electro beats, disappoints.
All songs on The Outsiders boast intricate drum programming and scratchy analogue sensibilities, brushing aside lingering doubts about the record's authenticity. The Outsiders is serious club music wrapped in a kitschy package, playing out like a vision of house music's future — as seen from an acid-washed, denim-clad past.

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