slip releases ‘the cost’ and spares no risk

By Allyson Nobles
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Photo by Zane Roessell.

After nearly two years of teasing singles, slip finally has released his ambitious and profound album, the cost. Helmsman Taylor Brown is making his own space for the meditative journey that you find yourself in when listening.

From the first plunks of “the patient,” you’re swept into the undertow of the bassline, like lurid rapids smoothed out under Brown’s commanding stillness. His voice an unassuming anchor that guides through the cyclic rumination, “Is it too late for us?” Despite the depth of the lower frequencies, with vein-like resonation, the spiking uppers of the other effects keep it from sitting too heavy, before finishing clean with the grit cut and only the guitar riff running out.

The mastery in the cost is indubitable, with the mix under the hands and ears of Jules de Gasperis. Consistently gritty throughout, every element smacks sticky and lingers well after each track wraps.

In “head on backwards” you’re at once struck with the yearnings of early New Wave, a darker more resonating groove, meddled with tinkering that calls back to the likes of Massive Attack, surely one of many predecessors that have inspired Brown. Couple this with the doubled harmonies, butter-like arpeggios, and a topsy turvy structure where the beginning feels like the end and the universally uproarious lyrics, “I want to scream, I want to believe, there’s nothing left I can’t unsee.” If you’re not riding in the car to this, windows down, whirring and hair whipping, then go. Now.

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Cut to ‘the optimist’ with its nostalgic qualities of mid-nineties grunge, a dirge with the subtlety of a cracked lip, split from a genuine smile through a closed mouth. It continually speaks to the slow grind and natural movement of your own appendages before picking up. “I’ll wait for someone else to come,” Brown laments, as If there are numerous simultaneous tempos that you can plug into; each listen offers an altogether different discovery depending on your own varying disposition, not unlike the rest of ‘the cost.’

“you+i” takes you on a more ethereal journey. Drum hits ricochet against an airy range of reverberations. The journey further expands, growing breathier and more intimate on tracks like “lost on the highway” and “the thought of a past life is comforting.” Atari-like synths are matured under clean vocals, a vibrant juxtaposition even when they appear near-clashing in more complex moments. Isolate a particular element within the song and you’ll find a singular tinkering, each a gesture to its own melodic atonement. Potentially cacophonous together, and yet somehow each song feels as if it only grows in space and breath. “Find a way to feel nothing,” Brown beckons. An invitation to allocate the listener a clean slate, fully encompassed by the experience.

Photo by Zane Roessell.

The ambience increases into “after the storm,” an erecting wave on calm water with the tenacity of the recurring tonic as grounding in the ephemera. As the exhale exudes, so “no one’s talking” arrives and fills the lungs. The stretching after a yawn, a restorative power comes from the conversation between Brown’s vocals and the bassline. Sometimes eerily reminiscent of the good ol’ early Portugal. The Man days, but he blends genres and textures into a wholly progressive menagerie of its own, rising and falling with the appropriate ins and outs of his own emotional dispensation.

The breathing slows, lending to a thoughtful nostalgia as the cost comes to a close. A hand-out-the-window-on-the-open-road kind of melancholia that’s not terribly leering, but present and waiting, whirring effectively on penultimate track ‘the skeptic.’ The diatonic sludge of the croaky synth teases an imminent closure.

Finally, ‘the cost’ appears, gradually soaring with interjections of epiphanic overtones that call you to contemplate further, breathe a little slower, sit a little longer in the discomfort of your own feelings of past and future, allowing only the present to settle in at whatever cost before the concluding uptick to lead you back out, wherever you are.

slip’s the cost arrives today, with a set for Festy Baby at Highland Park’s Lodge Room on November 30th.

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