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BOOTS: AQUARIA

BOOTS: AQUARIA

Asher now has the ability to construct his unique narrative.

BOOTS: AQUARIA

3.5 / 5

As current hip-hop royalty (the likes of Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Jay-Z) expand the beatscapes beneath their verses, that mass audience is unknowingly being introduced to a new wave of fresh production talent. While the likes of Arca, Gesaffelstein, BloodPop (fka Blood Diamonds) and Hudson Mohawke were all nourishing underground followings before getting plucked for studio duties, these associations meant a quick rise through the blogosphere. New York-based bartender/club DJ Jordy Asher (aka BOOTS) was caught in a similar phenomenon after his alias was spotted across the credits of Beyoncé’s celebrated 2013 self-titled release. Equipped with the confidence, label and bank account that rightfully accompanies hit singles, Asher now has the ability to construct his unique, unfiltered narrative across AQUARIA.

The BOOTS’ aesthetic draws heavily from the trip-hop of 1990’s Bristol. While Asher has never spoken directly about this inspiration, the atmospherics of “C.U.R.E” and “Bombs Away” are unlikely to have developed without repeated spins of Tricky’s 1995 masterpiece Maxinquaye. The verses of the former are clever (“Everybody telling hot crooked lies/ Rollercoaster ride, we all get to heaven so improvised, So doomed baby, doom baby”), but they are far from the visceral power of Tricky’s original familial melancholy.

More than just a computer or synth whiz, Asher explores initial motifs across the strings of his guitar. These instrumental wanderings eventually find themselves captured beneath a shroud of hazy atmospherics. This tactic removes some of the weight and emphasis from Asher’s vocals, which are served best in a background role. To his credit, Asher never gives all control over to a vocoder. So, an intimacy is nurtured between the distorted riffs of “I Run Roulette” and the downtrodden “Only.” The latter borrowing some moody energy from a Kid-A-era Radiohead: “I am the only one alive/ That is the only think I know.” But as the title track attests, Asher seems most at ease when working with a featured vocalist – in this instance, former Dirty Projectors co-conspirator Angel Deradoorian. Just as his guitar and keyboard are best utilized as building blocks to the larger atmospherics, Asher’s raw vocals are best when textured into this dark mosaic.

Asher excels at establishing a setting for this tale; however, in a world of constant distractions, there is not enough depth to keep one engaged with these surroundings. But he need not start recruiting any of his former collaborators for sheer name recognition (e.g FKA Twigs and Run The Jewels) and the subsequent PR boost. Born from the tumult of watching the death of three strangers over the past year, “Dead Come Running” finds Asher at his most nimble behind the boards. A retaliatory statement to the fear all around us. The track is four minutes of near perfectly controlled chaos. Like all instances of near calamity, it is so difficult to pull away.

It takes far more than talent to be a charismatic front person in pop-music, and it’s unlikely that Asher will ever fit into that mold. Nor should he ever desire to for the sake of his collaborative passions. Aside from his gleaming hip-hop credits, Asher has also given life to new worlds as a gifted film scorer (which certainly aides in the creation of these trip-hop atmospherics). Faces crack and chart-topping careers crumble, but a continually evolving talent has a way of always finding new meaningful work. Asher is that type of character.

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