Lab Group shoots, scores: Charlesthefirst, Potions, & Supertask’s debut EP is an experimental expedition through space-time [EP REVIEW]
The wait is finally over.
For all those who’ve been hanging intently onto the edge of their seats for Lab Group‘s very first EP to land, LAB GROUP I is officially here and it far surpasses expectation. The eight-track self-titled extended player is the first cohesive body of work from the supergroup, composed of Charlesthefirst, Supertask, and Potions. Having already teased the EP’s release with “Banshee,” the full project now comes to its final fruition with friends Tsuruda, Player Dave, and tiedye ky, as well as some featured appearances from Charles Ingalls’ lo-fi hip-hop alias, hawk.
Coming in as the EP’s first track, “Trapped In LA” is an eloquent journey that stands in the borderlands between ambient and experimental bass, with plenty of lo-fi textures. Built from the ground up by Charlesthefirst, Tsuruda, and Player Dave, this trippy three-and-a-half minute cut is stylistically balanced, highly unique in its musical arrangement, and utterly outstanding. The song’s main melodic foundation is heavily Charles-influenced, yet the other two producer’s marks are clear-cut and distinct. “Trapped in LA” is the perfect send off into what’s to come.
A highlight from Charlesthefirst and Friends last month, “Old Ways” then takes you deep into the mind of hawk.’s cheeky lyricism and Supertask’s cutting-edge production marks. The midpoint comes with the eclectic sounds of Charlesthefirst and tiedye ky’s “Space For Me.” Coupled with fluttering synths, poetic verse work, and light plucks of the acoustic guitar, this is a chill, organic cut that heavily showcases tiedye ky’s signature style.
Supertask and hawk. come back strong on “Nightshift” with an introspective collaboration, before moving into a highly-recognizable Supertask and Potions creation, “Can’t See.” This short two-minute tune heavily utilizes Supertask’s love for trippy vocal sampling, low-tempo pacing, and multi-layered percussions. If you listen closely enough even, or have a good enough memory, you’ll be able to identify this one from Kyle Bishoff’s Bicycle Day live stream.
“Ignorant Haiku” sees the trio combine minds with tiedye ky once more for an all-out experimental expedition through space-time. Laced with spacey tones, complex layering, foreboding low-ends juxtaposed against uplifting high notes, and some heavy reverb drag, there are so many more musical elements that hard to pin down or characterize.
As the closing track to the EP, “Camouflage” is the only purely Lab Group track between the three producers. With it’s high-level execution, this one feels like a true quest with its emotional peaks and valleys, expansive sound design, and highly unpredictable twists-and-turns that all keep listeners wondering what’s around the next turn. Designed to keep listeners wanting more, “Camouflage” is the perfect ending note. Ultimately, the guys are saying here: “stay tuned for more.”
Diverse and highly collaborative, the LAB GROUP I EP makes a verbose statement for the intellectual and imaginative capacity of these three young creatives. Not only have they carved out their own niches in the world of electronic music, Charlesthefirst, Potions, and Supertask have proven they are at the top of their production game when they work together.
Touching down plenty into ambient, downtempo, and lo-fi territory, with a plentitude of playful experimentation, LAB GROUP I doesn’t just go for the down-to-the-wire half-court buzzer shot. The EP wins the entire series in game four. Relaxing, reflexive, revolutionary, and resoundingly brilliant by all counts, Lab Group is here to stay.
Lab Group – LAB GROUP I EP
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Featured photo: Tessa Paisan.
Information seeker. Dog lover. Ph.D. drop out. Avid collector of pashminas, plants, and experiences. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.