Tom VR – Films

8.5

all my thoughts is the third label from Seb Wildblood, created last year (Church and Coastal Haze are the other two). Essentially Church’s younger sister, it seeks to ‘explore the deeper side of electronic music’ and be ‘a new avenue of sounds untapped’. What’s a given with everything endorsed by Wildblood, is the genuinely emotive nature of each release, being equally impactful sat down for home listening as much as in a club setting.

Incoming Tom VR is a case in point. Films isn’t Tom’s first release on AMT – Frissons dropped last May and is a stylish debut. He also has a label himself – Valby Rotary – co-run with friends Louis and Benito. It’s part of a small selection of labels releasing interesting music straight out of Leeds – the absence of more is surprising in a city with such a concentrated culture of record diggers, underground nightlife and inherently musical people.

Tom’s past releases have had a lo-fi house core, and while the theme features in his first full length, it nods to a much bigger range of influences, tempos and playful percussive constructions, with all 11 tracks tied crucially together by the ingredient key to all emotive music: rich and thoughtful melody. As the name ‘Films’ indicates, there’s a narrative to be told here.

After the opener ‘leave’ begins things gently with samples some will be able to identify and a miscellany of cosmic melodies, punching jungle beats catapult in from nowhere on track 2 – “golden memory” – the intensity then balanced by suspended soft notes and shorter ascending motifs which fire in and out intermittently. The biggest statement on the record is made early on, listener’s attention grabbed.

“lampshade” ft. Louf (also Valby Rotary) is the highlight. The deep and dubby electro beat with its steady BPM drives the track with force and develops confidently in sync with the dream-like chord progressions and melodic hooks – some from vocal sampling – to a very emotional climax. You’d be challenged not to be moved by this one.

Balanced with the surprises that surround them, “feathers” and “you (or someone like you)” are most like Tom’s preceding releases: pacing characterful house tracks, delicately constructed, soft at the core. This part of the dance music sphere is having its moment, and while nothing particularly groundbreaking, new tracks produced well make for easy-listening.

The light, dusty nu-garage groove of “sunrise tape” is a lush wind-down moment that gradually serves as an introduction to the housey “tanz” and its subdued, contemplative mood – a whole seven minutes of subtle progression via piano chords, echoey embellishments and a driving percussive backbone. The melancholic “infinite rest” is the full stop at the end of the sentence – this part of the LP evidencing that there are always atmospheric gems to be found in the final quarter of an album, often overlooked by the less scrupulous listener.

The three carefully placed interludes too provide moments of calm between the more club-appropriate tracks. This is a slick production that’s been well thought through, impressive considering it’s only the artist’s third official release.