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In an era of hyperstimulation, few things succeed at fully grasping our attention. Not many pieces of media make a mark on our consciousness, sneaking in at the edges of our perception and slowly making themselves known. Many aspects of our lives and environments blur into a quiet droning. Yellow and Gray, the mostly ambient new EP from Slow Draw, is anything but background music.

Yellow and Gray materializes like a thick fog on the horizon, fuzzy riffs and grooving percussion creating a meditative funk that is easy to become engrossed in.

While fans of Kitchens’ other project, Stone Machine Electric, will notice familiar psychedelic influences and signatures in Yellow and Gray, the album is still stylistically unique and somewhat of a departure from the heavy, psychedelic stoner-rock jams that Stone Machine Electric specializes in. Most notably, Yellow and Gray is almost exclusively instrumental. This reliance on tone to tell a melodic story in no way detracts, however, from the ethereal journey the listener is brought along on. In fact, it removes the distraction of lyrics from the equation and diverts all attention to the distinct mood and tone of each composition.

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From the chartreuse and melodic “Stumble” to the remarkably riffy “A Heavy Snack” and the oddly tropical, mirage-like feel of “Stranded,” Slow Draw explores a range of soundscapes, taking the listener on a psychedelic journey through the mind’s eye. Cheerful, bright synth is juxtaposed with thick bass and guitar to create a cosmic, oceanic feeling that washes over you in waves. There is a certain fluidity to Yellow and Gray that tugs you gently through the entirety of the record, keeping your attention honed. You don’t hear this EP. You drink it.

One of the best tracks is “Turntable.” Building gradually, effectively slow dancing with the ear, the song has a smoky amber vibration that feels like music you would hear in a bar at the edge of the universe. It’s a sepia psychedelia that plays with the mind and keeps the listener absolutely engaged. It’s the ideal soundtrack to quiet, relaxing evenings and contemplative self-reflection.

Drawing obvious influences from lounge, ambient, psychedelic, and even metal and funk, Slow Draw creates a unique soundscape that transports the listener into a sultry, vaporeal auditory environment. All senses are engaged without being overwhelmed.

Each track on Yellow and Gray has a unique and distinct tone while still fitting together in a cohesive way. The overall feel is a trancelike repetitive groove, that’s laid back while still demanding attention and intuitive listening. There is a space cadet quality to the entire thing that feels nearly like lounge music from another dimension while still being gritty enough to ground you to this realm of reality.

Slated for a May 7 release, Yellow and Gray is a natural successor to Quiet Joy, Slow Draw’s previous effort. It takes the bones of that EP and builds from them, utilizing the tones and auditory themes already well established in Slow Draw’s oeuvre to create a sequel that is harmonious with the rest of the existing catalog. — Chloe Walden

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