To say Instupendo burst onto the scene would be incongruous with his sound. Nothing about his style — as singular as it was when his first releases gained traction on Soundcloud as it is now — seems to “burst.” Instead, it flows pleasantly, incessantly outward, collecting fans in its wake.
The release of his debut EP Friend of a Friend, then, feels much like a culmination of his efforts to date. Each successive release has only cemented the Philadelphia-based producer’s status as a musician to watch in 2017. That idiosyncratic sound — a paradox: hazy without a single defined edge, yet possessing a subdued, bright shimmer; melancholic, yet at the same time relaxing and hopeful — is in full form on the EP. Amidst a cohesive sonic atmosphere, subtle deviations in sound drum up excitement for what Instupendo may still have up his sleeve.
The lead-off single, “Save,” is the most in-line with the producer’s current body of work. The EP’s second track, however, demonstrates a quiet confidence that is palpable throughout Friend of a Friend. Featuring vocals from New Zealander Lontalius, “Hand to Hold” eschews the typical response on a debut to do as much as possible. Instead, Instupendo demonstrates considerable restraint, making space in the spotlight for his lyricist and opting to let his synths alone. The resultant track— which has no percussion — acts like a soft cushion for the vocals to glide over.
“Play Pallete” also marks a departure from the producer’s signature style. While it isn’t uncommon for Instupendo’s releases to go nearly two full minutes before the percussion kicks in, the EP’s third track kicks into gear relatively early. A clever decision that oscillates the hi-hat pattern from a backbeat to the very front of the tempo gives this stellar track the most energy of Instupendo’s releases to date.
Rounding out the EP is another collaboration, “Homme” featuring vocals from Benny Sings. Exceedingly gentle, the track evokes a languid sway that is drenched in emotion. With his haziness in full effect, the hypnotic affectation is so intoxicating that the outro sneaks up on the listener.
For most, a debut EP would be the start of something. In Instupendo’s case, however, his productive 2016 served to lay the groundwork and expectations for this EP. It’s unsurprising then, that Friend of a Friend feels more like the closing of the first chapter. The producer is established, his sound is unique, and this EP is the definition of that, while at the same time teasing growth to keep fans intrigued at where he will go next. The recent release of his take on Cosmo’s Midnight “History,” combined with the release of Friend of a Friend, will only serve to increase the hype around this rising talent.