5AM – ‘Fills EP’ Review

5am peace mode

5AM is the delightful musical project of Sam Andrus, a young lad from Delaware. His recent sonic excursions have been carving out a unique niche for himself in today’s oversaturated music producer scene. For a couple of years now, the 5AM sound has been pushing what could most accurately be described as Biodigital Jazz. It is technical, lush, and highly musically literate. A lot of dance music, especially Glitch-Hop, features instruments such as piano or guitar, but they’re usually more of an incidental sound, an accent, a sidestep into a tiny moment that doesn’t fit in with the typically synthetic flow of sound. In contrast, 5AM’s music not only features acoustic instrumentation but celebrates and highlights it, letting it have a fluent conversation with the wobbles and growls we all know and love.

The Fills EP starts off with “Komorebi,” a seriously wet, hyperchill jammer. The whole tune has an air of welcoming you to the show. What sounds like muddy footsteps bring us into the rhythm as a bouncy melody dances around our eardrums. As the beat fully develops, a flexible synth twists around the mind. A wonderful start to our journey.

The second track, “Dripstone,” reminds this reviewer of such audio wizards as our friend Erothyme. Guitar riffs with pitch bends that sound straight out of a Western film, wobbles that would sound right at home in some old-school British dubstep, and drippy key noodles make this reviewer a happy boy.

“Peace Mode” is at once serene and mysterious. A gradual build of energy sets the stage for an aural cloud of synth jams and lovely trumpet jams. There’s always something in the background to give a sense of scale. The details are just waiting for you to discover them. One feels as though a melancholy story is being told, but certainly not one without its lesson to be learned.

“Returnity” is either a romp or a jaunt, I can’t tell which. It’s probably my least favorite of the bunch, but only because it feels like there is a heavy energy which desperately wants to be unleashed underneath the surface, but it never gets there. It feels restrained, and perhaps a more grandiose climax of energy wouldn’t be the right vibe for this release, but I can’t help but feel a missed opportunity here. Nevertheless, the tight chord progressions, lush spaces, and clean sound designs are all here.

“Synapse” sounds like the kind of video game I’d get lost in. The soundtrack to climbing a pixelated mountain to reach the temple built into the peak by an ancient race of forgotten craftsmen. Honestly I feel like that’s all that needs to be said.

It’s easy to pick out a 5AM tune from the crowd upon first listen. The Fills EP is a tastefully done bag of jams that we here at Lost in Sound graciously support. It’s a rich concoction of acoustic and electronic, glitch and flow, sharp and soft, coupled with phenomenal production and all wrapped up in a classy and musically stimulating Jazz package… The kind of music that will guide you gently but firmly down the road home after a long night of raging.

The Fills EP is out now for PWYW through Aquatic Collective. Times are tough and money is tight, but consider at least giving them what you would unquestioningly pay for a passable cup of coffee. Acquire it HERE.

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