Sound Advice: ...EP by Beta Frontiers
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Sound Advice: …EP by Beta Frontiers

Toronto-based blog favourites create likeable lo-fi electro.

It’s not surprising that the term chillwave was coined by the minds behind the parody-blog Hipster Runoff. Much like no one will admit to being a hipster, very few artists seem to actually want to be called chillwave, which makes a certain amount of sense. It’s a ridiculous word.

Toronto’s Beta Frontiers, for example, make no mention of the nebulous non-genre on their Bandcamp page. As a result, we’re not going to use the term to describe the band’s brand of lo-fi electronic music. Regardless of how you classify them, their latest EP, titled simply …EP, is a remarkably fun chunk of ear candy. With five songs of largely instrumental music consisting of hummable, fuzzy synth riffs; insistent, dance floor friendly drums; and some unexpected samples, …EP owes at least as much to Giorgio Moroder and The Avalanches as it does to Toro Y Moi.

The album gets off to a strong start with “Tak,” a song that samples both ’90s underground hip-hop—the vocals come from the title track off of Black Moon’s 1999 album War Zone—as well as video game sounds. While Torontonian indietronica and East Coast gangsta may sound like odd bedfellows, Beta Frontiers make it work, turning Black Moon MC Buckshot’s menacing verse into a catchy chorus. From there, the album gets considerable more uptempo. Songs like “Girl Bits” and “Oceana” have definite house influences, while “Defcon” verges into outright “banger” territory. The album’s highlight, however, is actually its slowest song, as well as the only one with proper vocals. “Hondo,” which you can listen to above, is simultaneously haunting and infectious. It’s the perfect pop song, covered with a spooky, dark veneer.

Beta Frontiers are already starting to attract some blog buzz, having received love from such online tastemakers as Gorilla vs. Bear, Negative Youth, and Brooklyn Vegan, and recently remixed Major Lazer’s latest single, “Get Free.” Given that sort of momentum, they’ll probably be headlining the Sound Academy by Christmas.