Portland based trip-hop producer Rook1e is relatively new to the scene. As most new instrumental hip-hop producers are when they first start out, Rook1e is in the stage of producing beat tapes with short and sweet cuts that mainly serve as a preview for production styles and background music. Producing since 2016, he already has a respectably sized discography with a single EP and two full albums.
His most recent album, “Discography Too,” released on Jan. 26 and is the follow up to his 2017 record “Discography.” His first record release was notable for the relaxing and nostalgic vibes it exuded, but it had a lot of the unfortunate qualities that most beat tapes do. The record featured 33 individual cuts, each usually being no longer than two minutes. This made it exceptionally difficult for any of the tracks to stand out, especially since they all followed similar formulas. However, Rook1e seems to try and remedy these issues on “Discography Too” by putting forth a much more concise 14-cut track listing with more individuality and personality inserted into each of the beats.
The record begins with “Grape Soda,” a track that seems to aim at capturing the nostalgia of a summer spent as a child. The track begins with the soft and comforting sounds of birds chirping and a lulling piano melody backed by the strumming of a harp under a vocal sample of someone excitedly recounting their first crush in elementary school. The elements continue to work in tandem to create a distinctly old-fashioned feeling, almost like the music equivalent of watching an ancient home movie. Rook1e contrasts this relaxing jazzy aesthetic with deep punchy percussion and some interesting, textured sound effects like the home run bat from Super Smash Brothers.
“Soft Serve” switches up the sonic qualities of the record overall by introducing more electronic elements as well as more live instrumentation. The cut starts off with the relaxed strumming of a ukulele with enthusiastic and upbeat electronic beeps and clicks that almost sound like they belong in a Grynpyret track. Soft, understated piano riffs accompany these elements and give the whole track a very dreamy and airy quality. This is topped by some nice embellishments from bells and chimes.
“Heartstrings” brings back the light and emotional sounds of the harp while basing its main melody around the warm, fuzzy sounds reminiscent of ‘30s television drama intros. The transition between the songs intro and the rest of its meat is mixed interestingly with some nice sound panning and the strengthening of the melody as it suddenly progresses from lo-fi into high recording quality. This is all embellished by some well-placed record scratches and hip-hop vocal samples.
While plenty of aspiring young producers making trip-hop beat tapes have a presence on the internet, Rook1e is an example of one with potential. His penchant for mellow piano and synth driven melodies brings something cozy and refreshing to the sometimes oversaturated genre. “Discography Too” is an example of a record that shows its producer’s progress as an artist and is a great stepping stone on the road to bigger projects. While Rook1e is only just now starting to put his best work forward, it’s only a matter of time before we see him put forth his first huge project.