Sitting shyly in the painfully overlooked crevices of ambient electronic hip-hop sits a sharp producer by the name of Kyle Yerhot. He is an enigma with a mind thick and loaded with the arcane craft of dope vibes and an expert in the craft of illusory sound techniques that make foggy contours feel like the most vivid and illustrious thing in the world, when under his spell. On the surface you might mistake him for just another contender in the mellowed-out underground, but you can easily overlook the fact that his music has a soul as fully-realized as any of the bigger names in the scene.
Yerhot’s work spans several aliases, including Smoke Room and Young Henry. The former sums up its business perfectly with its name: smoke rooms, rooms full of smoke, sitting in your room smoking – the vibes are relaxed and translucent, dense and rich hip-hop ambient bliss meant to be played in the frays of light hours, an ode to chilling out as the day ends and either partying your ass off or going deep. Young Henry is a more extroverted affair, favoring melody over atmosphere yet still succeeding a little bit with both. Yerhot’s love of Korean samples is more of a driving force than with other monikers, creating a more upbeat but still appropriately ghostly feel, and doing so with a bit more energy, sunshine and a taste for low-fi pop sensibilities.
Enter Uio Loi, the name he seems to be the most occupied with these days, currently stationed on the Zoom Lens label. On his self-titled release, we see Yerhot unleash his more minimal, abstract side. A few core elements remain intact from his other works, such as chopped vocal samples, hazy undertones, and Shlohmo-esque beats and glitch, but the overall feel of Uio Loi is a distinguished one. For one thing, there are a few tracks that dabble in radio static noise antics and lo-fi sampling. On “Love Without Words” this is handled more purely lo-fi, with a good 40 seconds of hushed ambience cueing in a jazzy drum solo over a tornado siren, and elsewhere “Seophear” follows up this idea with a pinch of Actress flair to it with deep, muted beats and a little screech-and-scratch.
A majority of what’s on display on Uio Loi resembles a more laid-back electronic redefinition of his work as Smoke Room. There’s a greater affinity for glitch and less of one for dance, and where Smoke Room still felt a little bit sober amidst the out-of-phase shenanigans, Uio Loi takes the full plunge into surreal, cracked, and waterlogged beats for the adventurous mind to explore. Though hardly a formless album, still having clearly defined patterns, there’s still a characteristic imperfection to the piece that puts it in the ranks of abstract hip-hop dimensions such as Shigeto or Actress. The resulting mix may or may not be a step up from his excellent work under Smoke Room, but without a doubt it’s a new sound and feel that fans of virtually anything I mentioned in the review would be intelligent to engage themselves with.