It makes perfect sense that the first release on Emancipator's new Loci Records label is this one from Canadian producer Tor. The Vancouver based artist was also the first signed to the new label and all it takes is one listen to Drum Therapy to understand why.
The debut album from Tor, Drum Therapy lives very much in the same territory as Emancipator's music. This is downtempo electronic with heavy beats, a mix of live instrumentation and plenty of vocal samples. This brand of electronic is among my favorite right now as I move further away from some of the cheesier dance stuff that gets far too much attention. This is a rather moody album, perfect for winter listening in fact. In addition to the samples, which draw on everything from Eastern music to old gospel and even 60's Italian film scores, Tor also plays most of the non-sampled instrumentation.
Things start off with one of the album's best, "Glass & Stone". Acoustic guitars, violins, a tribal drum beat and sampled female vocals are cut-up and looped, making for an entrancing opening. The snaps of "Nomad" are enhanced by gorgeous violin work while "Aperture" has sped up vocal samples over its warmly inviting musical bed.
As you'd expect by the album title, drums play a major role throughout. Tor's beats are a little harder than label head Emancipator's, but his music has that same, mystical feel, at times almost menacing, but always touched by beauty. The album closes with two of its most impressive tracks starting with "Paper Rain", a percussive wonder with guitar and keyboards prominently featured. I can't help but hear the influence of Play or 18 era Moby on album closer "Let Me Down". The first song that came to my mind once it started was "I'm Not Worried At All" from 18 with its sampled gospel vocals. It's a deeply affecting track, my favorite on the album.
Drum Therapy came out at the tail end of 2012, but after living it with for the last few days, I would have been remiss had I skipped calling some attention to it. Definitely a must have if you're into downtempo electronic. A fantastic debut album.
Favorite Tracks: "Let Me Down", "Glass & Stone", "Aperture", "Nomad"
Drum Therapy was released as a digital download December 11, 2012 on Loci Records. A physical CD will be available in 2013.