With a confusing mélange of tempo and genre, Ryan Hemsworth’s Guilt Trips is not a trip to feel guilty about, but rather a twisting, uncertain journey through EDM. Although technically well put-together, this short album could not possibly fulfill any function; Guilt Trips would not fit into any mood, situation or setting.
A producer and DJ from Halifax, NS, Ryan Hemsworth infuses strong hip-hop vibes into his music, but with Guilt Trips, his second album, he seems confused about how to make ‘chillstep’ and dance music simultaneously.
Each track focuses on drums of all varieties and Hemsworth includes other percussive effects, keyboards, extended bass synths, and short vocal samples as well. Some tracks fortunately include vocals, a necessary element to keep the listener interested and fill out the sound. But Hemsworth makes up for the otherwise repetitive nature of the acoustic beat music by keeping the tracks short, the smallest being only 1:40 with the average lasting three minutes.
The album’s first track “Small & Lost” perfectly illustrates the idea of the entire album; alternating between escalating drum and bass and a soothing female vocalist over keys, the track could be classified as drone, dubstep, trap, or R&B. The album finishes with a surprise: “Day/ Night/ Sleep System” finally includes the rapping Hemsworth’s beats inherently demand. However, he keeps the track slow, focusing on the rapper’s flowing speech and keeping the listener confused about whether to dance, nod their head, or fall asleep.
Although each song impressively combines hip-hop, dubstep, trap, and other genre-specific sounds into a surprisingly harmonious product, the result exhibits why these elements are typically kept separate. This is not an album to dance to, it is not good background music, it cannot be used to study, and it does not present any strong mood. If you want to listen to interestingly crafted electronic music then give this album a try, but if you’re looking for a soundtrack to some kind of activity then choose something else.