Live Review: Ross From Friends' 'John Cage' is just as playful as the name would imply

28 March 2018 | 7:16 am | Kyle Fensom

Ross From Friends signs to the Brainfeeder label and delivers 'John Cage', pushing his lo-fi house into more hip-hop and bedroom pop territory.

The British producer ROSS FROM FRIENDS (aka FELIX CLARY WEATHERALL) has announced his new EP, Aphelion, which is set to be released April 6th, by sharing the lead single, ‘John Cage’. On this, his first release for FLYING LOTUS’ Brainfeeder label, Ross From Friends moves his lo-fi house project into more hip-hop and bedroom pop territory.

According to Ross, the track’s hip-hop undercurrents can be traced back to its inception. The song “originally began life as a tune for this goofy hip-hop project that me and my pal Guy from back home always do when he’s in London. I’d be making beats and he raps." He went onto say, "It’s always a refreshing approach making tracks in that atmosphere because we’re both always on such a spontaneous tip. When I’m making music alone, I’m obsessive and everything takes hours, whereas with Guy, we’d try and get as many tracks finished as possible in like a few hours.”

Chopped up, pitched down vocal samples coalesce into an infectious, glitchy, borderline-wordless melody while warm, vintage Rhodes chords, radiant guitar licks, and a stuttering hip-hop indebted beat infuse the track with a low-key bliss. A lushly textured collage of samples held together by a sense of playfulness that the project’s name implies. The real genius of ‘John Cage’ lies in how Ross From Friends uses this lightness and fun to guide the listener through the weirder aspects of his music. When the track breakdowns to a brief interlude of seagull samples, the effect is curious and whimsical rather than startling like the silence in a JOHN CAGE track would be, for example. Instead of excluding the listener, Ross From Friends includes them in his world of tongue-in-cheek playfulness.

Plug into the latest music with our FREE weekly newsletter

The melding of genres and the stylistic adventurousness in ‘John Cage’ is an exciting forward step for Ross’ career as it is. But along the way, he also demonstrates a level of polish and sophistication to his production that we’ve never seen before, which is just as - if not more - exciting, and certainly bodes well for his first release on the Brainfeeder imprint.

IMAGE: Fabrice Bourgelle