With his earliest releases gracing the upper echelons of house labels in Dirtybird and Toolroom Records, there’s little doubt that C.H.A.Y.’s productions are ready for the big leagues. But as the majority of the young musician’s releases exist in the form of collaborations and little-known singles, fans have only caught glimpses, at best, of the Floridian’s greater artistic vision. That all changes with C.H.A.Y.’s newest EP, Travel Far, a 4-track record that takes listeners on a sonic journey to the precipices of conventional electro and tech-house—and even a few steps further.
Travel Far’s title track gives an immediate sense of C.H.A.Y.’s mature, iconoclastic approach to writing club music. It builds, and boy, does it drop, but it doesn’t revolve around the expected crest-and-trough blueprint. Rather, it establishes an aural template and employs a toolbox of instruments within it to elaborate on C.H.A.Y.’s bass-turbulent agenda. It’s a rare look, but one of the few that can give a nine-minute electro song true replayability. This approach, paired with syncopations that lend a nod to label owner/overlord, deadmau5’s 2008 Random Album Title, make “Travel Far” a potent opener to C.H.A.Y’s first mau5trap EP.
Soon, the listener saunters “Into The City,” a musical potpourri. The track enlists chopped classical melodies and noir shading with just a touch of 8-bit synthwork: an electro-house homage to the glitchy, bygone complextro of yesteryear—while offering something completely fresh in the process. On the production side, the amount of tonal textures weaved into the fabric of a four-minute song is aurally improbable, and a glaring sign that C.H.A.Y. is producing well beyond his years. The EP’s third song, “Crime” is undoubtedly (and fittingly) the swaggiest of the release. Swerving its way to late-night glory with its throbbing bass and galloping kick, but also brings another layer of patina to the release as a whole, as a track exclusively comprised of sounds from C.H.A.Y.’s analog outboard.
Travel Far returns to convention with its final tune, “Floxen”, which for better or worse, is the most mainstage track on the release. Here, C.H.A.Y. opts to embrace the build-centric style, which is where “Floxen” may fall flat for some, but its 3/8 rhythm and emotive vocals recorded by C.H.A.Y. himself do more than enough to keep the EP’s final tune afloat.
Simply put, Travel Far is an excellent outing from front to back. Each track manages to be memorable and thump to its own distinct beat, all while sharing common threads throughout. However, what really shines about the release is C.H.A.Y.’s astounding production skill and songwriting tendencies that are on full display, both of which paint a picture of a musician far more seasoned than one would expect from a producer so early into his career.