They say there is no greater era for music than the one you grew up with. For the creatives amongst us, so powerful are our favourite artists that they can even influence us to replicate the same sensation ourselves. But as we quickly learn, to wear such inspirations on our sleeves without reducing them to derivative counterfeits can ironically be an art form all of its own. Thankfully it’s with confidence one can say that in a world full of the Rufus Du Sol’s and Amtracs by which Ryan Krumins better-known project Hot Tub has been accurately compared, it’s the latest from the Vancouver-born multi-instrumentalist that’s got the potential to one day reverse that very sentiment.
What’s incredibly refreshing here is Hot Tub’s implementation of dynamic timbre through conscious inclusiveness of oft-overlooked instruments corporeal. Accompanying underlying synth basses and sub-laden patches are glistening arpeggiations of guitars, rhythmic shakers and anything else from near-field claps to out-of-this-world found sounds. From the opening seconds of the wistful ‘I’m Coming Home’, to its stage setting, no-nonsense club anthem follow-up ‘Lost Myself Today’ and optimistic final note ‘New Day’, there’s an abundance of material here and all of it used in it’s less than 20-minute playtime to paint a vivid picture of who Hot Tub truly is.
It’s an ambitious mixture grounded by Krumin’s admittedly at times simplistic but wholly welcome vocals that fluctuate between subtle to upfront and only seldomly touching upon the cliché – the perfect culmination of which takes centre-stage three-quarters through with the evocative ‘In This Moment’. Here, effective use of teased harmony builds tension only to boldly strip it away in the drop leaving us with the looping melancholy of an almost Bonobo-styled mallet sample and underpinning driving kick that induces an almost tribal-like trance welcome on the likes of tropical beaches and secluded desert festival dance-floors alike.
Engineering wise, there’s even less to fault. Kick drums punctuate, low’s carry and reverb’s soar in and amongst compositions with enough space for each element to shine. At no point during Dust to Dawn is any of the 4-tracks-strong extended play too busy, too sparse or overstaying its welcome in any frequency range. What results is a relationship between each division of instrumentation, space and melodic maturity that strikes that very elusive ‘sweet spot’. Impressively, everything has an understated but tangible congruence that lends to a familiarity one can only simply define as ‘the good kind’.
It’s a kind of polish usually only found by projects you’d be hard-pressed to believe originates back no further than a 2019 debut. With a relentless work ethic and the resulting rabid release schedule of both Hot Tub’s originals and heavy-hitting remixes (for heavyweights such as Lane 8 and Autograf) that lead him to such honours as number one on Hype Machine, Krumin’s doesn’t skip a beat in proving previously awarded terminology like ‘breakout year’ could easily become something of a repeating headline passed simply just the year 2020.