The Californian delivers nature-inspired house, minus the kick.
Junipero isn't strictly a house record. Huerta all but renounces the pulsing four-to-the-floor kick, a near constant in his work since 2012. Instead, the Californian, now living in Berlin, foregrounds the New Age and ambient tones that have resonated for decades in his home state. Pastoral odes to the region are commonplace, from New Age progenitor Suzanne Doucet's Reflecting Light Vol. 1 to Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's Buchla compositions, inspired by teeming ecology. Junipero might share few similarities with a New Age label like Wyndham Hill, but it channels a similar breezy atmosphere, thrumming with restorative potential.
There's more than a hint of the Vancouver label Mood Hut, especially Slow Riffs or Pender Street Steppers at their most bucolic. But Huerta's sound is more digital—and, by extension, cleaner. This gives his rhythms a special clarity. On "Mutualism," the kick is just a whisper against oceanic synth washes and gently percolating drums. "All Wild Things Are Shy" skips with what might be the year's softest breakbeat. These tracks feel made to induce the sort of emotional and physiological response a walker might encounter in deep nature. Huerta invites listeners to immerse themselves in California's wild places, even if only for a fleeting visit.