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If you've been following Toronto producer Harrison since his days as a teenager posting funk edits to SoundCloud, his debut.
If you’ve been following Toronto producer Harrison since his days as a teenager posting funk edits to SoundCloud, his debut full-length album feels like a big step forward. Last year’s Colors EP found him moving away from sample-based productions to develop his own melodic sensibility, and he’s since honed that approach into a sound that balances his taste for 80s boogie with more contemporary hip-hop, house and pop influences.
As on Colors, Harrison collaborates with a variety of guest vocalists, and this time has also teamed up with other producers, like Ryan Hemsworth and Seamus Hamilton. The singers help bring out his pop potential, but most of the album’s focus is on beats – it’s more uptempo than the early singles suggested.
Clairmont The Second’s stream-of-consciousness rapping on It’s Okay I Promise fits well with the sensitive vibe of the track. Vertigo marries Harrison’s trademark uptempo future funk tendencies with soulful, silky vocals by a l l i e, and in So Far From Home, Young Guv channels his inner indie R&B crooner.
The record is split fairly evenly between hip-hop-influenced beats and grooves that are closer to house music tempo, all of them making heavy use of glassy metallic keyboard melodies and 80s electro funk synth jabs. A few riffs also evoke vintage video game tones. Everything sounds a lot wider and richer than his earlier work without coming across as overproduced.
Many tracks have the potential to rock a dance floor, yet you get the strong sense that Harrison intends this as a private headphone experience. A charmingly quiet restraint extends even to his biggest bass lines and beats, giving Checkpoint Titanium an intimacy missing from a lot of electronic music.
Top track: You And I
Harrison plays the Velvet Underground on September 30.