It’s been eight years since Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes came out. Its powerful ambient energy will always have a place in my heart. The lonely rainy days at home pondering about my future. The nights driving on empty streets thinking about the past. The empty afternoons on my laptop browsing through the endless filter of the internet high out of my mind. These were the times I would listen to Shlohmo’s piercing beats, which are layered with sounds of typing, a mindless tapping on the desk, or a ruffling of sheets of paper. Everything felt like an ASMR cloud dream.
On Shlohmo’s The End, the mood is much pronounced. Hip-hop and rock’s influence pierce through the mix. Tracks like “The End” contain trap drums and synths that evoke that Southern hip-hop sound. Still, it’s the rock influence that stands out on these tracks. Every distorted guitar sound churning out an evocative melody carries the weight of mindless wandering. There’s a darkness that envelops every single one of Shlohmo’s tracks, but it’s a darkness that provides warmth and shelter for the winter to come.
“Rock Music” is a perfect introduction to the end of the world. It acts as the forming of the meteor in space. Dust particles in the black depths of the universe coalesce into a massive rock, heating up to astronomical levels. Its trajectory — the destruction of an entire planet. No one is aware of the end except this arbitrary rock that will come crashing down to our fatality, a possible justification of our planetary self-destruction. “The End” is a tribute to that ignorance. It’s trap sounds elicit a nonchalance on the dance floor. Billions of people around the world holding escapist beliefs are about to die. Drugs, music, and other vices are consumed. Soon, everything will end. Our escapist tendencies are realized when people are finally put at rest.
The whole record moves in slow motion. There’s no immediate worry until the very end when there’s beauty in the sky, a flaming ball of misdirection. One may think that it’s merely passing by, waving at you, but there’s that lingering feeling of anxiety that things might end up lost and destroyed. The record ultimately has me thinking of what I’ve done in the past. Have I tried to fulfill my potential? Did I succeed in every aspect of my life?
The film Melancholia offers a similar parallel to the record. The only few people on earth know that everything is about to collapse are frozen. Knowledge is a damning curse. What else can you do if all the glamour in life is in your possession? The only awareness that matters in the world is at the palm of your hands, yet when the time is up, none of it ultimately matters.
On “Panic Attack,” footwork permeates the track. After the apocalypse, a chase ensues. The line between good and evil has been drawn, and a cascade of demented humans chase after the vulnerable. Where can one escape after everything has fallen apart? Are there any more safe spaces on earth after everything has fallen? One can only reach the sanctuary that is death.
So what can one do when faced with the overwhelming anxiety produced by the articulation of death? It’s an existential question that we dread on a day-to-day basis. Metaphoric meteors are heading towards our own destruction in our everyday lives. The luxury of oil, the overindulgence of meat and sugar, idleness, depression, political war, fatigue, poverty, heartburn — these are all signs of a slow death. Shlohmo’s end doesn’t have to mean a meteoric reign over collapsed cities. It is the acknowledgment of these societal problems that we must assess and not just mull over but must be acted upon. “Staring at a Wall” is a little trickle of every one of these thoughts. They bog us down, but all we can do is stare into nothing, into the abyss of death without consciousness.
On “Be Myself,” glitch and IDM influences shine. The sputtering vocal samples echo on the dance floor. The final seconds of Shlohmo’s songs always end in a dream-like haze — a surreal reality that everything is indeed coming to an end at this present moment. Yet, the vinyl still spins, and the stories we read are no distractions anymore.
The record ends on the ambience of “Still Life,” a vibrant yet calming breeze of nature. God’s storm has ended, and now everything is at peace. Shlohmo’s use of RnB vocals, as used prominently in past efforts, is still at play on this record, mostly as an instrument this time around, and not at the centerpiece. Was it all a dream? Was the future just shining through our consciousness? The track brings a pause for reflection and assessment of our time in this life. What do we all have to lose in the end when everyone else suffers anyway? Is humanity really something so sacred that we must do whatever we can to stop it? These might be fatalist arguments founded on nihilistic principles. Do we give up everything, or savor everything while it lasts? So many questions to ask, yet so little time to answer them as we turn our heads the other way for something more pleasurable. At the end of everything, The End allows us to dive deeper into the crevices of the mind. It’s a meditation that we must reach into daily. Life is about self-awareness. As humans, we have the capacity to acknowledge our faults and our own destructive behaviors. It is only through constant self-reflection that we can trudge through the everyday struggle of our being.