Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song is featured during the 2014 Spring Fundraising Drive. Your continuing support makes it possible for us to share with you “Small + Lost” by rising Canadian electronic producer Ryan Hemsworth from his debut solo album, Guilt Trips, on Last Gang Records.
Ryan Hemsworth has been in a whirlwind for the last couple years. He’s graduated from bedroom remix artist to full time collaborator, and with time he’s only going to become more of a hot commodity. In the last year, we’ve seen his track with Mad Decent R&B singer Liz “Day N’ Nite“, an excellent DJ set on Diplo and Friends for BBC, as well as remixes of artists ranging from Atlanta hip-hop group Migos to (just a couple days ago) trending synth pop group Wave Racer. Everything this guy touches turns to gold. Even still in his early 20s, Hemsworth has helmed a pretty unique style, combining sampling, slowed down hip-hop tracks, and dance texture to make for a really groovy time. After a range of EPs focusing on specific topics and sounds, Guilt Trips combines the full spectrum of Hemsworth’s world into one 36 minute package. Guest vocalists range from Baths to Tinashe to Kitty - seriously, you couldn’t get a whole lot more diverse than that without sacrificing some continuity. But somehow Guilt Trips never feels unbalanced. It’s a testament to how well Hemsworth balances the wide array of tools at his disposal. As a whole, Guilt Trips is trip after trip of solid production goodness, and it’s a great introduction to the work of Ryan Hemsworth if you haven’t taken the dive yet.
Guilt Trips opens up with “Small + Lost”. Here, Hemsworth barely cracks the door before letting you into the full swing of the action on Guilt Trips. Rather than open with a bang, “Small + Lost” is all atmosphere. Building a castle on a single alternating sample, you quickly get the idea of how massive Hemsworth’s tracks can get, even without a concrete focal point. As Sinead Harnett’s ghostly vocals spiral around the bells and synth lines and drum samples and piano and noise, the listener can’t help but feel a bit of the isolation and loss that the wordless narration hints at. But as light and sound and color kaleidoscopes in between your ears, you’ll realize that the feeling at hand isn’t melancholy as much as it is wonder, accompanied by a desire to explore the vast, cold, bright world out there. In that, it couldn’t be a more perfect introduction to the album, and it’s a great, atmospheric addition to anyone’s winter rotation.
Ryan Hemsworth just wrapped up a U.S. tour that included a stop here in Seattle earlier this year. He’s on his way to Australia next. If he heads back out on the road in this hemisphere again, you’ll know if if you keep up with him on his Facebook page and website, where you can learn more about him and listen to more music. For now, enjoy the official video for “Against A Wall”, featuring Lofty305, another track from Guilt Trips: