Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
For the past few years, Zane Reynolds' project as SFV Acid has been a consistently strange and compelling outlier in underground dance music, his purposefully limiting but elusive blend of ambient jams and homemade visual art held together by concepts that are refreshing in their mundanity. Reynolds made and recorded his debut album, last year's 'The Dwell', in a local Starbucks in the San Fernando Valley that he resides in, and there's an interesting comparison to be made between that album and The Other People Place's 'Lifestyles of the Laptop Café', an excellent 2001 LP by the late James Stinson of Detroit electro duo Drexciya. Besides their stylistic similarities, Stinson's album was music made for sitting in a café and thinking about life, while Reynolds' was music made for sitting in a café and thinking about sitting in a café – caffeine rushes, exchanges over the counter, and toilet breaks all included.
The surburban restlessness that gives tension to SFV Acid's house and techno goes beyond clichéd ennui to an odd sense of comfort, and even wonderment, in his surroundings. His music doesn't dream of an escape or release, but rather narrows the focus down to the small, seemingly insignificant, things. His new album, 'Amber's Stuff', is about heartbreak. Dedicated to a recent ex-girlfriend, its tracks fixate over totems of the relationship, like Pink iPhone, Bejeweled iMac, and Vanilla Musk.
You can, of course, question whether or not Amber is in fact real (or what the main use of SFV Acid's OK Cupid page is), but the facts of the matter are largely inconsequential as everything, even this very personal topic, is ultimately sucked into his thematic world and becomes a palette to paint from. The rose-hued melodies of Fage Kisses (presumably named after the yoghurt) open the album and in drifts a big cloud of sadness, carried through the similarly lovely Video Journeys and Pillows, and punctuated by the more abrasive Cheddar Mercedes – with a chunky bottom-end and a snarling sound like a car revving off – and the sprightly diversions Dirty Martini and Art and Drawing.
And No Stress seems to complete the process of moving on, an expansive finale that builds from a steady house beat to grinding acid to ripping electro and closes with the enduring bassline pumping on in isolation. All in all, another fine chapter in the unfolding SFV Acid story.
UNO NYC released 'Amber Stuff' on April 25th 2014 (buy).