Slauson Malone 1 tackles grief on new single ‘Voyager’

For a label with such a proud history of championing boundary-pushing acts, Warp Records still seem to have a canny ability to keep finding musicians that routinely challenge the status quo and create art that enthralls. No exception to this trend is Slauson Malone 1, who has announced his signing to the label with a new single, ‘Voyager’ – a track that showcases exactly why the producer is deserving of the space to conjure sublime work with them.

Having cut his teeth in the avant-garde collective Standing on the Corner, the last half-decade has seen the artist (real name Jasper Marsalis) delve further into experimental territory with critically acclaimed releases such as debut album A Quiet Farewell, 2016-2018 and follow-up EP Vergangenheitsbewältigung (Crater Speak). It’s not just his own work that has received admiration, as his production chops have seen him collaborate with other trailblazers such as Injury Reserve and L’Rain among others. With a résumé like this, it’s not hard to understand why Marsalis makes light work of flitting between genres in such a graceful fashion.

The full breadth of his talents are on show in ‘Voyager’ as he dips his toes into ambient, abstract hip-hop and art pop throughout the track without fully immersing himself in any of them enough to be pigeonholed, but showing more than enough skill in all of them to let the listener know he’s a master craftsman in each area. The delicate loops of acoustic guitars and simple synth lines carve out the foundation of the track, but they’re often punctuated by blasts of electronics and opulent horn samples at oddly-timed intervals, adding to the overall peculiar feel of the song.

Marsalis also stars as a vocalist on the track, delivering a style that sways between whispered crooning and stuttered raps that languish behind the tempo of the instrumental in the same way the likes of Navy Blue and billy woods regularly do in their verses. The song sees him in a contemplative mood as well, musing on grief and homesickness as he documents his feelings around abandoning his New York home for the West Coast of America. It’s a fittingly odd juxtaposition between vocals and instrumental, but this is far from uncharted territory for him.

While there are moments where the experimentation can feel giddying and catches the listener off-guard with its abrupt pauses and interruptions that invoke the feelings of personal unrest tackled in the lyrics, this is Slauson Malone 1 at his most sedate and sobering, demonstrating that even when toying with abstraction he can create equally serene compositions. It’s simply stunning in all facets. 

Words: Reuben Cross // Photo: Gillian Garcia

‘Voyager’ is out now via Warp Records. Stream and purchase the track along with the rest of Slauson Malone 1’s discography via Bandcamp.

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