Recording information: Makeshift Studio, Tulum; Uno.
Since signing to Kompakt in 2012, Canadian DJ/producer duo Blond:ish have been releasing an intriguing stream of sunny, slightly introspective 12"s that often feature live instruments in addition to shuffling tech-house beats. The pair's full-length debut, Welcome to the Present, finds them diving headfirst into their spiritually minded side, beginning with several trippy downtempo cuts that echo the Orb at their most psychedelic. The album is abound with mysterious voices and field recordings sourced from the duo's retreats to places like the Mayan temples of Mexico. Two tracks from the duo's 2012 EP Lovers in Limbo are reworked, but this time out the beats are de-emphasized in favor of sly guitar lines and hypnotic atmospheres. Even the tracks with steady 4/4 rhythms are filled with exotic string and percussion instruments rather than ecstatic synth melodies, as well as the sounds of rushing water and chirping crickets. This strange album of shamanic hippie-techno exotica fittingly ends with the reflective "It Starts Now," which is built on an extended sample of philosopher Alan Watts. ~ Paul Simpson