It’s really quite pleasing when an album you’ve been anticipating for a while ends up exceeding your expectations. Vancouver producer Tor makes really good instrumental, downtempo/hip hop-influenced music, and I’d been supremely impressed each and every time we were sent some of his work. But I’d been waiting a while (a couple years maybe) for the promised full-length album of his original work. Well Drum Therapy is here now, and it’s better than I could have imagined.
There is certainly tons of great instrumental, hip-and-or-trip-hop-influenced music being made in this country of ours (and hopefully you’ve found some on these pages in the past), but I think Tor has to be in the upper echelon of the folks making that music. Drum Therapy is ten fairly mesmerizing tracks that keep the tension high and easily live up to the album title. The influences on display are wide-ranging, with carefully-mined world-music elements adding mystery throughout. That said, I think what I like most about Tor’s work is that he doesn’t rely on these sounds as the centerpiece of his songs, but uses them to augment his already strong arrangements.
Case in point: the record kicks off with Glass & Stone and Heikki, two beautiful tracks with the kind of exotic elements that make them sound like they should be featured on the soundtrack to a highly regarded foreign film. But two songs later we have The Thickness, which, while still glistening with a few shimmery layers, relies mainly on its snappy drum break that would easily be at home behind a 90’s fast rap classic.
Enough of the over-analysis from me on this one. Go get some Drum Therapy. Have a listen and then snag a copy for your daily travels – this stuff is headphone healing of the highest order.