Ryan Hemsworth is from Canada and has released numerous EPs and remixes since 2010, as well producing for MCs like Shady Blaze and Deniro Farrar. He is from the Wedidit Collective, a crew including Schlohmo and RL Grime, and travels along approximately similar vectors to their particular sounds. His sound is best described as sampled-based emo-electronic hip-hop instrumental with purple aesthetics.
The Wedidit collective released his last full-length album, entitled Last Words. Pitchfork reviewed the album as “too scattered” although “avoiding tedium and redundancy.” Still Awake is self-published on his website and also advertised on the Wedidit website, so it’s safe to assume that Hemsworth is still a part of this collective.
Anyway, more about Still Awake.
This album is less melancholy than Last Words, but still carries a similar tone of emotion and whimsy.
Starting track ‘Empty Thoughts over a Shallow Ocean’ is unapologetically gooey and feel-good, and kicks over at a house pace of around 120bpm. It is infectious, although a bit cheesy and lacking in any form of attitude to be played in any club. This is where the charm of this emo-style music lays, in its bravery to travel beyond the cool kids realm.
‘Perfectly’ travels over a similar uplifting 4-4 pace with twinkling keys, but is also broken beat at interludes. Ryan Hemsworth gets a bit over exuberant with his vox samples, as commented to have done in previous work by an earlier Pitchfork review. At least he consistently does this, so one could say that this element is a part of his artistic vision. Or maybe not.
Things start slowing down in ‘I Want to Stare at Your Face Until You Die’, before mellowing right out in ‘Mistakes to Make’, which with the stream sample in the background reminds one of one of those moments where a Skins character is having a moment of angst and self-discovery by a river.
‘Track 5 (crashed)’, comes to a grinding halt. In the emotional overall context of Still Awake, this could be deemed as a moment of introspection, with mournful melodies reverberating strings and organs heralding this. Final track ‘All Our Thoughts Are Physical’ picks the album up again, and is most likely the most accomplished in subtly uplifting the listener. It steadily runs along a half-time beat with progressing and ascending chords and key notes, with accompanying indecipherable female vox adding to the overall feeling of this song before petering out.
In conclusion, nerds, girls and puppy dogs will love Still Awake. Funny thing is, girls will love this softer touch, and all guys in clubs are after girls, am I right? In light of this, maybe you screwfaces should mellow out, listen to this, and get in touch with your inner nerd/girl/puppy dog.
Link for free download: http://ryanhemsworth.com/