‘ALOE’ is the first album to be created by producer FTHMLSS.
Starting out 11 years ago by making grime beats on FL studio, and has since expanded and explored a variety of genres – I’m glad he did because listening to this was an absolute pleasure.
When I first saw ‘ALOE’ released back in September 2019, I was drawn in by the simple yet strangely mesmerising artwork — perhaps that’s a quality of the plant itself? I was immediately intrigued. Maybe because I have an Aloe Vera plant on my window sill, which I’ve been known to stare at it, especially when listening to music. When I asked why FTHMLSS had chosen this peculiar plant as the centre piece for his album he said, “I decided to name the album after spending the day shopping for some houseplants. I always love to have plants in the studio and I was looking at my new Aloe Vera plant I’d bought and thought it was fitting to name the track I was working on at the time after it. From then I felt inspired to keep working on more tracks with this theme.” I think it’s a great album cover and idea. Plants bring that stillness combined with an air of life to any room, basically summarising for me what this album is all about.
From the moment the first track ‘Lemonade’ starts you know you’re in for a treat, as the sounds of crispy Rhodes and hypnotising basslines begin to wash over your mind like gentle waves against the shore… yeah — this shit is smooth like some silky spider webs with dew drops glistening in the melodies… or another metaphor to try and describe the feeling of listening to the Aloe Vera plant.
Each track seems to breeze effortlessly into the next creating a 'whole' experience when listening from start to finish (Resist that shuffle button). I listened to the album in the car and the quality of the mix really came through on my car’s speaker system (producers know the car test) … but to really get a sense of the mesmerising quality of this musical chill zone, you’ll need to get your headphones out, close your eyes and I guarantee that by the time you get to the track ‘Adrift’ you would’ve been lifted up and taken away to a better place. When I got to the end of the track ‘Aloe’ and heard the clip about being nice because you never know what the future will bring… I was ready to turn my life around (I’m still working on it).
The album is an experience in its own right, but as I laid back on that cold winter’s night ready to reflect on my life (again) the last track ‘Nightshade’, for me, concluded the album with a song that to be honest felt like a warm blanket for my soul. Am I exaggerating?… Probably… is that how it felt?… Absolutely. It’s my favourite track of the album without a doubt. I have a love for beats that are simultaneously optimistic and melancholic… 'Nightshade' is exactly that.
I began to try and imagine the process by which FTHMLSS had gone about creating this ‘diamond’ in the rough terrain of a potentially over saturated genre. He said, “There were a few different methods of creation throughout the album. Tracks like ‘Adrift’ and ‘Late Nights To Dream’ were created mainly within logic, layering one shots, chords, etc… building progressions and then building the drums through various one shots. I also used my iPhone a fair bit, using garage band and recording melodies in to some of the tracks. Last but not least the PO33 made a quick appearance, pretty much creating 90% of ‘Arabica’ to then be imported to Logic and tweaked. Most samples I sourced were from Splice and also a lot of home-grown recordings subtly placed throughout.” FTHMLSS also went on to say that the track 'Arabica' in particular is one of his favourites because of the janky groove and the fact that it took him 20 minutes to make! He said, "I wish I could recreate happy accounts like that all the time!” I know the feeling well.
I love the fact ‘Arabica’ is made with the PO33 (I’ve yet to use one but have always been curious about making a track with it) and layering chords probably explains that blanket feeling. His approach of using a variety of methods and attention to detail is evident in this album that displays a diverse nature of feelings throughout.
The future looks bright for FTHMLSS with some serious opportunities on the horizon, working with labels like Aviary Bridge (shout out to Leon and Laura for all the work they’ve been doing), Pueblo Vista & Village live. That’s if he doesn’t disappear for too long into the producer’s void after recently investing in a Teenage Engineering OP-1!
Listen to 'ALOE' below:
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