Finally, Identity is a trio of compositions that pair melodic minimalism with lopsided beats to create relaxing audio abstracts that challenge conventional flow and form.
If you can imagine a form of lofi, wonky hip hop that favours mathematical algorithms over steady head nods, you’d be pretty close to describing the basic structure of Inert’s music, but not exactly spot-on. There is a lot more to it than that, despite the genre being referred to by some as purposely shapeless or a mishmash of time and space.
Lofi hip hop playlists on Spotify have millions of followers. Their popularity is undeniable. But in a playlist format, especially when the tracks are short and lacking common distinction, everything can appear to run together. One track bleeds into the next. One of the things that makes Inert’s debut interesting is that it offers us, basically, three small pieces that would become lost in playlist setting. As a standalone EP, we’re provided with the opportunity to see these tracks in a unique light.
“Lofi has a very distinct set of rules for rhythm,” says the Saint John-based producer. “While it sounds drunk and off-time it’s actually very calculated, using triplets in 3/4 time. I got familiar with the feel through J Dilla and MF Doom, but it may have started earlier. Those artists are geniuses in my eyes.”
Inert creates short, concise compositions. Each of the three tracks presented on their debut are less than two minutes in length. By the time a mood or a theme has been established, it’s already reached its end without hitting any obvious highpoint. Mood in – mood out. But working within such a seemingly simple set of parameters isn’t without its challenges. Afterall, pairing moods with colour is a subjective act.
“There are less decisions, but every decision counts more,” explains Inert, whose creative identity involves both sonic and visual elements (see their Instagram here), both guided by similar parameters. It seems lofi beats and pixel art have a lot more in common than you might have thought.
“I like that my music and my artwork all involve few but important choices,” says Inert. “You can only use a limited palette while keeping honest to the pixel art aesthetic.”
Finally, Identity was released January 22 as a split with Inert’s alter ego Jeff Cook, with cover art by Korina Hunjak.