TVD Album Review: TOKiMONSTA’s Creature Dreams EP

Trip hop has long been a turntablist’s game, even if the most obvious examples you can think of are Geoff Barrow’s scratching on Portishead’s “Only You” or the seminal DJ Shadow Endtroducing. In the early 2000s, artists like DJ Krush, RJD2, Nujabes, and DJ Vadim continued to carry the torch, despite public opinion that “trip hop was dead” or relegated to Buddha Bar compilations. It is in this vein that LA-based producer TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) makes her pastiche of beats and samples.

The hop in trip hop has long alluded to a natural synergy between turntablism, hip hop, and downtempo, and the genre has managed to stay fresh precisely because of its broad influences. Creature Dreams is Tokimonsta’s debut EP on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, which should say a little something about being in excellent company and having the Flying Lotus stamp of approval, if you will. (Tokimonsta just wrapped up a tour with label mate Daedelus and is continuing touring throughout the summer, pairing with Nosaj Thing on several dates.)

Tokimonsta cut her teeth on a myriad of fresh remixes with a signature sound—anything from Tweet’s “Call Me,” to Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” and Telepopmusik’s “Breathe.” She released a ton of mixtapes and toured, paying some major dues in the process. Her diminutively adorable moniker terribly apt, Tokimonsta is a Godzilla on the wheels of steel and clearly knows more than a thing or two about crate-digging, scratching, and creating really naturally flowing sample soundscapes.

TOKiMONSTA | Bright Shadows

The Creature Dreams EP finds Tokimonsta on an even more consistent course with her sound than her last full-length album, 2010’s Midnight Creatures. “Bright Shadows,” “Little Pleasures,” and “Darkest[Dim]” are three of the standout tracks on the EP, and they feature singer Gavin Turek. “Day Job” is another equally beautiful track—as a whole, the album is consistent in its excellence and is very un-California-esque in that it’s late-night listening alright. It is not a dark record—it’s maybe moderately melancholy in its dusty vinyl ambiance, but it is easily one of the best and most consistently “trip hop” albums to come out in recent years. Definitely worth a spin!

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