In the unrelenting, fast-paced and underpaid life of a music blogger it is sometimes easy to become disillusioned with the never-ending search for new music. Then something (or someone) comes along, in an untravelled corner of the internet to restore your faith. This time round the saviour came in the form of Olsen.
Our way in was Super Recordings, the label of Ninja Tune signee Raffertie (if you haven’t seen it you should check out the excellent video for his single Build Me Up). In a move that defied the digital music age, Super let Olsen’s debut album Totoro sneak out through the back door; no glamourous launch, no song and dance and no imposition on the music hype machine. As a result, they’ve released one of the most under-appreciated electronic albums of 2013. The description that comes with the LP is spot on: immersive, understated and assured. It’s a lofty claim for the nine-track debut release of a relatively unknown producer, but one that doesn’t fall short.
Much in the same way Floating Points achieves such a unique sound with the breadth and depth of his influences, you can hear some very prominent jazz sounds emanating from the intricate productions on Totoro. These feel like songs rather than tracks; carefully constructed – composed, even – and all the more rewarding as a listening experience. Thankfully, the comparisons with Floating Points is continued through the sonic similarities between Tropics (above) and Svenska Gramafon by Olsen and ARP3 and Myrtle Avenue by FP. Elsewhere, Computer Blue (above) and Forever Gold recalls the deep and soulful Detroit house of Theo Parrish while the glitchy, high-pitched vocal samples on Lourds harks back to early work by Jacques Greene. And just when you think you’ve started to pigeonhole Olsen’s sound, in comes Ofelia: a pulsating, dramatic and ethereal late night groove and our favourite from the lot.
With early releases from Bondax and Alunageorge on their books, it’s clear that Super are garnering a reputation for uncovering serious talent, and we’ll go out on a limb and say Olsen will be another. Totoro is out now on Super Recordings. You can buy it over at iTunes and stream snippets of the whole album on Super’s Soundcloud. Finally, Olsen’s put together a jazz tape for us, as part of our Stamp Mix series, which you can listen to and download below.