7.0 / 10.0
ERAS, not to be confused with ERAAS, is Nathaniel Eras, a LA-based producer known for some underground limited releases and remixes of such artists as Death Grips and Chelsea Wolfe. ERAS’ new album Portals is best approached as a double EP, rather than a full-length. In its vinyl format, the album maintains a dualistic approach — a Yin and Yang where the album’s first side of four tracks is pastoral and dreamy and the second side sounds like a nightmare come alive. Releasing the album in this format shows off ERAS’ range and just what he’s capable of.
I’ll refer to this album as a “mixed bag”, but I don’t mean in a necessarily good or bad distinction for its songs. Portals is a fairly even mix with a few standouts but no real weak spots. ERAS approaches his lighter material (tracks 1-4) with comforting constructs – lots of bell chimes, synthesizers, and ambient techno. Opening song, “Eros”, builds to a momentum that recalls Fatboy Slim near its end. While that song gives its listeners a vibrant climax, most of the first half lulls its audience into a relaxed calm, most apparent on “Abeo”. Even among all its glitchiness, the ambient layers are surprisingly soothing.
When “Oath” kicks off Portals’ second half, the tribal beats over a futuristic soundscape will come as a shock. The song antes up its percussion and turns on more atmosphere with scrambled moans and chanting. The following song, “Coma”, only intensifies the album’s mood swing with deep, morbid bass and ghostly, haunting voices. In the background, it sounds as if someone is repeatedly flicking a lighter as if trying to find a way out of darkness. There’s a hip hop quality behind “Coma”, and I could imagine someone like El-P making this a killer single by dropping some vocals over the mix.
Much like its namesake, Portals has two sides for its listeners to explore. Each has its own high points — the sensation of walking through a robot’s dream on the album’s first half and the suspenseful thrills found in its second. ERAS has something for everyone. All they have to do is enter.
Purchase: ERAS – Portals