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Estara

Estara

It’s been four years since they released Teebs’ debut album Ardour and it would feel reasonable - although a little disappointing - to say that Brainfeeder’s status as one of the most compelling labels in electronic music has waned.

It may be that their admirable loyalty to their existing stable has led to a slight stagnation in fresh creative direction. A browse through their catalogue from the past couple of years throws up a fair amount of Lapalux and Thundercat, but not a whole lot else, save for a handful of releases from the likes of similar stalwarts Jeremiah Jae, Ras G and The Gaslamp Killer. Perhaps it’s also the case that, whereas circa 2010 their seat at the head of the abstract hip hop table was more or less unchallenged, in recent years the cloudy, more rap-ready beats fashioned by Clams Casino, Squadda B and Raider Klan have shifted listeners’ preferences. With the recent emergence of his rap alias Captain Murphy, it seems Brainfeeder label head Flying Lotus himself acknowledges the current vogue for the return of the MC.

Teebs’ work, however, has never been the most compatible with the human voice, and on his second full-length release - 2011’s stellar Collections was, it seems, more of a stop gap EP - he declines to reinvent his own wheel. This may be why, ultimately, out of his three more substantial bodies of work, Estara seems the least compelling. There’s no denying the enthralling textural production skills that Teebs consistently exhibits and he remains one of the few electronic musicians who can conjure up such vividly organic visions in the listener’s mind. What’s lacking on Estara is the same sense of wide-eyed adventure that lit up Ardour and Collections. There’s a lingering sense that for Teebs - along with, perhaps, the wider Brainfeeder family - the most illuminated days are behind us.