On Smoke Tape, Draino writes his melodies in long, broad strokes. Rather than take the lead, they tend to sprawl out in the background ("Inside"), letting the rhythm section do all the heavy lifting. And like his fellow Vancouverite Jack Jutson, Draino has a way with basslines that makes them the focal point of each track. Where Jutson's are peppy and disco-informed, Draino's are rambling and dreamy, tracing out melodies in a wonderfully roundabout way. They provide solid texture amidst formlessness: on "Black Forest," the bassline gets almost squelchy, grounding the floatiness with earthier sounds. The bass on "Dengue" provides gritty contrast to the relaxing birds and dulcet melodies above. But there's no better example of his method than opener "Jade Tour," where the bassline groggily stumbles around, happening upon a beautiful melody as if by accident. Part of its majesty, and the light psychedelia of "Canopy," comes from D. Tiffany—another underrated Vancouver resident—who complements Draino sound comfortably, as if they've been collaborating for years. She gives Smoke Tape's best moments a faint flair that breaks up the lava flow of Journeymann's more blunted solo compositions.
There's also an appearance from another one of Western Canada's leading lights, Khotin (who was responsible for one of 1080p's defining tapes, last year's Hello World). He shows up on "Arboreal Jam," a spacious recline flecked with harp sounds. Shimmering and incandescent, the strings stick out on Smoke Tape, which otherwise comes at you through a hotbox haze. The record remains constantly (and pleasantly) out of focus, getting more foggy as it rolls along. By the time we reach the breathtaking "Ice Sheets," the drums have fallen away completely, leaving only a distant drift to latch onto. Chords surface like beads of condensation, and the feeling over "Ice Sheets" is one of complete calm. It aligns Draino not just as another talented artist in a busy and en vogue house scene, but also as part of a Pacific Northwest lineage that includes ambient artists like Loscil and The Sight Below.