Ross From Friends graduates from lo-fi house on his intimate debut LP.
Family Portrait, which took over two years to make, was inspired by a trip Weatherall's parents took in 1990, before he was born, throwing soundsystem parties across Europe, and also by the dance music they played in the house as he grew up. You can hear these influences in the fragments of rave, breakbeat, hip-hop and electronic pop among the LP's house tracks. "This is definitely the most consciously personal music I've made," he said recently. "I wanted to do something that could actively contain a part of [my parents] within it."
Family Portrait is, like his past work, all about melody. The metallic thrust of "Thank God I'm A Lizard" is offset by daubs of soft-focus synth—the kind of woozy reverie Weatherall's known for. The slowed-down funk of "The Knife" has an unintelligible vocal that will worm its way into your head. "Project Cybersyn" zigzags between stark drum passages, bursts of saxophone and a buried melodic lead. The sax sounds sad, while the synth lead and bassline get the blood pumping. Alongside sentimentality, there's distress and excitement, too.
Last year's The Outsiders EP had six tracks lasting 44 minutes. Family Portrait packs more ideas into tighter frames. The LP was painstakingly assembled, with Weatherall logging 20-hour days on some tracks. It's on tracks like "Wear Me Down" and "Pale Blue Dot" that the newfound complexity of Weatherall's sound becomes obvious. The music is densely textured and meticulously arranged, but it's still as much about feelings as it is technical chops. Take "Don't Wake Dad," first released on Aphelion. Something about its bleary-eyed shuffle, smooth jazz accents and chipmunk vocals is ineffably familiar and intimate. By drawing on memories and relationships for inspiration, Weatherall conveys emotion more convincingly than ever before.