Over the past few years, musicians and producers have blended into one entity. With the rise of the “chillwave” genre, more musicians have turned to producing synthetic beats and recycling bits and pieces of old tunes to create new music, rather than strumming a guitar or beating a drum. With the rapid progression of software technology, this way of making music is much more accessible and easy for a musician to track and mix, quite possibly from the comfort of his own bedroom.
I, personally, am quite happy that this caught on. Being a fan of both indie and electronic music, it’s refreshing to hear something that interlocks the two genres. My newest love is Alec Feld, a New York-based producer who goes by Expensive Looks. Feld grew up listening to Chicago house, disco, old Motown, his parents’ psych records, and what he refers to as “trashy ‘90s dance.” As a kid, this love of electronic music influenced Feld to teach himself how to DJ, although he didn’t really know how these songs were created, or that sampling even existed. DJing grew into producing, and his DIY mentality enabled him to figure out the interworking of electronic music on his own.
The outcome of this experiment arrives in the form of Dark Matters, Expensive Looks’ debut LP. The album, which was released January 17 via Group Tightener, sounds like its creation process—experimental. Feld seamlessly references all of the aforementioned genres, resulting in a groovy, textured dance album. Broken down into nine tracks, the record flows effortlessly from song to song, creating moments of build up and tension (“Your Dreams Our Week”); disjointed confusion (“Felt Up”); and utterly beautiful, entrancing melodies (“Be My Own”). It feels as though Dark Matters aurally illustrates Feld’s journey in creating music—bewilderment gradually transforming into something wonderful.
The record’s first single, “Moving Visions,” is its highlight. This track encapsulates the LP, beginning with a melodic looped synth riff, with striking drum machine beats quickly accompanying it. Slowly, more beats slide in, creating complex, full layers of sound. Eventually, Feld’s muddled vocals join the mix. But where many musical acts tend to focus on the lyrics as the standout part of the song, Feld thinks of them as just another beat. They’re leveled with the instrumentation and slowly get jumbled with the rest of the sounds as the tune progresses, until the line, “Wherever we go,” eventually becomes nothing more than another loop.It is clear that this is just the beginning for Expensive Looks. He has a vision and is able to evoke feelings and atmospheres with a genre that is thought to be cold and void. I look forward to see what’s next for Alec Feld.