There's no better testament to the originality and fertility of the Los Angeles beat music scene than the fact that five years after the world began to take note, the music is as innovative as ever. Free the Robots, a.k.a. Santa Ana-based Chris Alfaro, could be dubbed the DJ Shadow of the Low End Theory community — a man whose voracious appetite for sound strains lands him someplace noir, where he taps a dark, psychedelic vein while boasting highly technical hip-hop production prowess.
Free the Robots' forthcoming self-released album, The Balance, might be the man's freest creation yet, a swirling work of retro-futurist effects, proggy ideals, jagged jazz, and blissful glitch (to that end, our pal Jonwayne lends a hand on the song "2040"). Below you can hear "Carnival," which folds a bit of creepy calliope into a bed that sounds designed by Portishead and perhaps fluffed up most recently by King Krule. On vocals, we're joined by Jessie Jones of SoCal psych-blues band Feeding People for a woozy wobble through a hall of old organs, Mellotrons, and dusty samples. "I was in a dark and eerie mood at the time," Alfaro tells SPIN. That'd be an understatement.
Free the Robots, The Balance track list:
1. "Ophic" feat. Jessie Jones
2. "Reflect and Reform"
8. "The Balance"
9. "Carnival" feat. Jessie Jones
10. "Last Night"
11. "2040" feat. Jonwayne
12. "The Unexplainable"
13. "Let Go"
14. "The Rain"