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Live Review: Rei So La is easy on 'Inside Out'

11 January 2018 | 8:14 am | Kyle Fensom

Rei So La perfects his idiosyncratic blend of psych, guitar-driven R&B on 'Inside Out', and then pushes his style to new, more experimental frontiers

Brisbane-based musician and producer REI SO LA makes an idiosyncratic blend of guitar-driven R&B with a healthy dose of psych that sounds like something Toro Y Moi or Washed Out would’ve dreamed up during the early days of chillwave. On his latest single, 'Inside Out', Rei So La perfects this blend, and then pushes it to new, more experimental frontiers.

At the top of the track, Rei So La admits that “lately, I’ve been feeling lazy”. With its wavy guitar chords, scattered percussion, mellow organ keys that sound almost improvised and a meandering guitar line that floats around at leisure, the track suspends you in Rei So La’s sun-soaked languidness. The pitch-shifted vocals, backed by some mellow coo-ing harmonies, are delivered in a wistful, laidback manner that makes them sound almost Frank Ocean-esque as Rei So La describes how “loving you is different”. Everything about the track seems easy, as if it all fell spontaneously together into a single expressive mood for Rei So La, and he’s letting it calmly wash over you.

The carefree nature of the track is almost enough to conceal the fact that it’s probably Rei So La’s most experimental and challenging composition to date: the track starts with his guitar repeatedly digitally cutting out before it coalesces into a proper groove. This production trick repeats itself throughout the track, occasionally stuttering and cutting out while Rei So La’s vocals are mid-line and his guitar mid-chord, making the track sound as if it’s skipping. On an otherwise relaxed and easy song, the effect of juxtaposition is striking. (At one point, around the 2:48 mark, the track sounds like it’s cut out entirely and, in a panic, I rushed to check that there’s wasn’t a problem with my Soundcloud instead).

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Towards the end of the track, the guitar detunes itself in another clever production sleight-of-hand, revealing Rei So La’s full, unfiltered soulful voice that rides the track out on its own wave. It's ambitious and impressive, and holds this artist in good stead as we head into a new year. We'll have our eyes peeled for what he does next!