Local producer Khotin has become known recently for his low-key vintage house sound. His music has never fit into a traditional dance music mold despite being built around conventional 4 / 4 rhythms. On New Tab, Khotin arranges a compelling collection of tracks that are closer to ambient and Warp Records releases from the early ‘90s — a contrast to the dance music rhythms that we’ve come to expect.
Khotin’s ambient music reveals a strong sense of melody and sound design through the first half of the album. Percussion appears at points, but the tracks are often beatless. Much of the album captures sounds from ‘80s and ‘90s era electronic music, exploring the unique limitations of the era’s machines. But the sound isn’t a retro facsimile; the combination of influences and textures gives the listener a sense that this is a 2017 release.
“Canada Line,” the album’s standout first track, builds and holds a synth drone punctuated with atmospheric samples from TransLink’s automated station announcements. Well chosen samples are used throughout New Tab. “Frog Fraction” takes delayed voice clips and stretches them with effects and ribbits. The voice motif returns later in “Dialogue 6” — one of the album’s best — and in “Molly” with some eccentric answering machine samples. The uniqueness of the samples holds through repeated listens.
Rhythm and beats take on more prominence through the second half of the album, especially in the final three tracks. The breakbeat infused “Fever Loop” exhibits deft arrangements strewn over piano and watery effects. “New Window,” the album’s final track, evokes Khotin’s previous work with stutter-step bass drum, clap sounds and simple melodic interludes. As a whole, the album’s production style and subdued rhythms are reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works albums. New Tab is a departure from Khotin’s earlier releases but is still irresistibly well-crafted music.