Torrello – Out of Office
2.1.23 by Matty McPherson
Kenny Torrella, “D.C.’s sleeper cell groove sensation” sort of just wandered into 100% Silk last summer with arguably the label’s best effort since Ascultation’s III back in Summer 2020. It was so noteworthy, the label decided to revive their defunct House of Silk imprint just for the release of the Out of Office cassette. And when I was doing the Tabs Out Top 200 of 2022, I ended up stumbling into the tape and the last available copy from Torrella personally.
There are two things that have struck me about this tape and its illustrious qualities. Firstly, as lo-fi house (balearic stylings and bells and whistles are abound) it immediately warrants tape listens when applicable over any other sound system. The songs, specifically Magic Mirror & The Zone, are washed out and soaked in glitzy, effervescent textures that tingle and pop; they are funky fresh bops that are often otherworldly heartfelt and emotive. Other cuts, like the OOO mixes of All the Time & With You, Yeah purposely stick out of the low end, in lieu of imparting a crisp, ghostly layer of airy amber-laden synths on top of the crunchy beats. Tackling a sound like this can be merely pleasurable or it can impart a longing; any tape on 100% Silk could be this at any given day. Yet, Torella’s beats and smattering of almost-voices across the mid-range give the tape these feeling of window shopping on an abandoned stretch of the Miracle Mile. Bittersweet only could capture so much of what makes the tape ingenious.
This brings me to my second point: Torella’s synths LONG and YEARN in a rather resonate manner. While the fetishization of 80s/90s technology is merely a given at this point, the logic behind chasing these sounds and what one is supposed to do with them can be situated in many frameworks. And from there, why a sound becomes so hypnotic you want to live in it becomes its own mission statement. The synths that often ground a majority of this album are encroaching on a particular snappy n’ soppy or punchdrunk drone quality that puts the tape in a lineage dating back to mid-80s The Wake and their own emotive synth laden works. But they did not dance, they brooded unnervingly; whereas Torella purposely is chasing daydreams and crystalline midnight hours with brevity and gentle ease.
Anyways, if you haven’t heard Magic Mirror, it’s streaming below. Tapes Sold Out at the Bandcamp, but still available at the 100% Silk distro page on Midhaven dot com.