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Premiere: Astronautica offers soft digital tones on 'Califlorida'

February 21, 2013|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • Edrina Martinez, who records as Astronautica, will release her first album on the acclaimed Alpha Pup label.
Edrina Martinez, who records as Astronautica, will release her first album… (Courtesy Alpha Pup )

Among the many stylistic traits of Southern California cultural offerings is a certain easiness, a smooth, groove-centered vibe found both in Dr. Dre’s G-funk sound two decades ago and the dubbed out sounds of Flying Lotus, Teebs and the Gaslamp Killer today.  It’s in the harmonies of the Beach Boys, the graceful delivery of Chet Baker and Frank Ocean’s relaxed story-tracks on “Channel Orange.”  

“Replay Last Night,” the debut full length from L.A. beat producer Astronautica, taps into this wellspring. The alter-ego of 21-year-old Los Angeles native Edrina Martinez, Astronautica on her debut, which comes out Tuesday, crafts instrumental electronic dance music filled with pensive, muffled rhythms that wend through gratifyingly complicated melodies.

It’s a dangerous business, though, crafting bliss that still retains tension -- the kind that’s not cheesy or overwrought.  The tracks on “Replay” walk that line, conjuring a feeling that suggests the pastoral sounds of Boards of Canada or the Cologne techno producer the Bionaut’s magnetic pillow-beats. At "Replay's" best, as on “Lowrider,” a similar soft funkiness drives layers of sound, gauzed-out vocal snippets, hissy high-hat runs that chase casual rhythms and plumb the depths. Ditto “Weekends," which features humming basslines, fractal voices and an echoed finger snap where the snare’s supposed to be.

Martinez's creative life is drawing some heavy boosters. “Replay Last Night” arrives via the hot Alpha Pup label, whose work both as a purveyor of its own sounds and as distributor of the Brainfeeder, Friends of Friends and Leaving imprints makes it one of the most important hubs in the L.A. beat scene. Label owner Daddy Kev co-founded the weekly Low End Theory party, and his freshly unveiled recording studio in Glendale now offers a sonic anchor to the label’s headquarters.  Too, Martinez recently signed a representation deal with the Creative Artists Agency, so expect her work to be heard in any number of future platforms.

Pop & Hiss is happy to premiere a track from “Replay Last Night” called “Califlorida.” The first cut on the album, which will arrive March 5, sets the tone for the 10 tracks to follow. She'll be performing at the next installment of the Low End Theory on Wednesday at the Airliner in Lincoln Heights. Listen and download below.

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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