Justin Flores is a Renaissance man with a motor. Flores aka THA F.O.R.M.U.L.A. is a hip-hop producer/artist from Pacoima, California who is the founder and artist on independent record label Vintage Elements Recordings. He also hosts for the weekly broadcast "Syndicate Radio." On top of producing for other artists he has released his own albums.
In 2013 he released A PEACE OF SOUND and just recently released AS SOUND TRAVELS.. AS SOUND TRAVELS.. is a purely instrumental hip-hop album that shows off his diverse skills as a producer and engineer. Flores’ production style at times reminded me of Prefuse 73 while at other times it reminded me of more fundamental hip-hip going back to the early to mid ‘90s. The album is huge at twenty-two tracks and I felt that it was easier to digest in segments. Although none of the songs ever go past the five-minute mark, it felt like a bit much to get through in one sitting.
Flores has a formula at least in some ways. His beats hit hard and everything else feels like it surrounds that. Take for instance the track “Count Down.” It is arguable that the focal center of the song is the drums. The notes and melodies on this track are dreamlike, shoegaze elements that swim and swirl. “Battle Cries From a Samurai” uses completely different elements such as vocal snippets and soft synths, which end up sounding like one unified sound.
Other songs like “Do You Want Cross Paths?” and “I Missed My Train Of Thought” mix disparate elements you wouldn’t think would work together but do when combined. As the album progresses there were a number of highlights including “What You've Given Me” where Flores splices up a vocal sample. Flores is like a surgeon as he precisely cuts up little snippets that bring the song to life. I also enjoyed the soulful “Play Those Horns” which as you may have guessed contains a lot of horns.
Overall, “AS SOUND TRAVELS..” is a consistently solid album. Flores is one to keep your eyes on and you can see his name be credited on a lot of album in the not too distant future.
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