Ryan Hemsworth, Guilt Trips
Showing himself as a talented collagist who creates strangely moving songs
Early in his career, the Halifax producer Ryan Hemsworth consumed various genres and styles of music with a kind of unfocused musical gluttony. Trap music, a loose term used to define the heavy, martial production of Southern rap acts like T.I. and Young Jeezy, was in heavy rotation in his DJ sets and rap production, as were pop singles of the early aughts, the manic soundtracks of old Game Boy cartridges, and light-fingered synth work like that of electronic contemporaries Cashmere Cat and the Wedidit Collective. But on this year’s EP Still Awake, Hemsworth zeroed in on the specific sounds that he was interested in and on his debut album, Guilt Trips, he continues the trend, essentially slotting his influences. Trap gives him the ascendant drum patterns around which he structures his singles. Those video game soundtracks give him the high tone and register within which he’s clearly comfortable. And his appetite for pop has given him the wherewithal to understand how to keep songs that rely on all manner of outré sounds tightly structured — “Ryan Must Be Destroyed” and “Still Cold” (which features Baths, to great effect) incorporate these influences so completely that, unless you’d been tracking Hemsworth for the last few years, it’d be hard to understand where his sound originated. On Guilt Trips, Hemsworth, like many of the most interesting musicians of his generation, shows himself to be most talented as a collagist, mining the musical tricks he loves to create electronic miniatures that double as strangely moving songs.