Cave Diving Music

When listening to Chalo’s new EP, Anemoia, it’s easy to imagine gloomy, hidden environments. The instrumental project, which drops today on Bangkok’s More Rice Records, is made up of cavernous tracks with weighty vibes and a mysterious searching quality. It’s electronic music less focused on fitting into a genre than exploring moods and feelings. “It’s a dive into my own consciousness,” he says. “I explore the space in the music itself.” The project is full of chilly echoes, distant reverb, warm sub bass, and heavy percussion. It feels its way around, seeking out new environments, but it doesn’t get too caught up in itself to forget the audience, connecting enough solid rhythms and sparse melody to give it direction.

Title track “Anemoia” swirls about with subtle pitch shifts, rhythmic reverb effects, and chasmal echoes. Glowing keys drip into pools of underground water and sounds sink deeply below. Occasionally it glitches and lurches, briefly exposing the oculus veil draped over our eyes, but never enough to ruin the digital mystery. “Doppelgaenger” is just as questioning and emotional, but bigger and more propulsive with bassy stabs, fuzzy reverb, and ominous melodies. Artifacts drift away like electric dust, distant alarms try unsuccessfully to pierce the dream, static charges fail to ignite, and bit-crushed hopes abound. “Recollection” is full of choral echoes, gurgling subs, and hazy wobbles. Glittering bits of lights sneak through the cracks then bounce off a jungle canopy of skittering hi-hats.

Although Chalo is a recent face in the underground scene here, he was born and raised in the Pattanakarn area of Bangkok. During high school in the late 2000s he played guitar in a metal band but says the scene was very small. “The audience was all other musicians,” he laughs. It wasn’t until his university days in Berlin that he rediscovered his love for music in the form of techno. “I used to just like guitars and ‘real’ instruments. But when I went to a club, I learned to understand electronic music by experiencing it in its proper setting.” Early inspirations like Moderat and Burial are still evident in his music today.

When he returned to Bangkok, he knew he wanted music to be in his life, but the prospects were slim: “Unless you were a producer for a pop artist, you couldn’t make a living from music.” So he picked sound engineering as a compromise and applied for internships at every studio he could find. Despite being self-taught, he found a spot, and when he finished they hired him. He still works there to this day, mastering for vinyl and home entertainment surround sound.

Through engineering, he met local producers and DJs and eventually got back into writing his own music. “I just do what feels natural. My influences are very subconscious,” Chalo says of his process. “The best way for me to make music is to feel like I’m performing. Not too much programming.” He makes eight bar loops or near-finished arrangements and then experiments with them. “I basically create drum tracks and mix them down, then throw the stems into a drum machine, where I chop and rearrange them.” It’s a process that’s similar to his live performance, which is more dance-oriented. Next, he hopes to bridge the gap between his live performances and his productions, mixing deep and mysterious sounds with more functional rhythms to get people moving on the floor. “I’ll be working on clubbing tracks next with heavier grooves, but still in an experimental way.”

Anemoia is available worldwide digitally, but if you want the wax, you’ll have to stop by the new More Rice record store in Bangkok.