A few years since Family Portrait, Felix Weatherall’s debut album as Ross From Friends, he returns with Tread, a record that shows encouraging signs of development. A hearty dose of club culture is still there – the kicks still knock and the hi-hats shimmy – but this is part of a more diverse mix of sounds and flavours, as synthy ambience and mid-tempo sections lend Tread something approaching an IDM aesthetic.
The Daisy kicks things off with moody garage and a sampled vocal that complements the chord sequence nicely, the former’s vulnerable squeak meeting the latter’s enveloping legato tones. The old Ross playbook is back in earnest, with erratic breaks, granular synthesis and gloopy phasing effects making for a disorienting house of mirrors and, similar to Family Portrait, it pushes the album along nicely even when the tracks are just loop-based.
Revellers has a good house groove going for it, but the track really comes into its own when the 4×4 pulse is dropped in favour of breakbeats for a more dynamic coda. Indeed, breakbeats abound on Tread, their glistening techy coating reminiscent of Hybrid’s percussion. Notable beatless moments come at the two-thirds point, with Morning Sun In A Dusty Room filtering distorted pads through a charmingly irregular tremolo effect and Run’s slow build and euphoric climax presaging a drop that never arrives.
On a track like Run, Ross demonstrates a flair for pacing and synthplay that would make Caribou proud, and if most of the record’s other pleasures are more subtle then they are no less enjoyable for that. Spatter/Splatter’s rootsy drum loop and chanting sample are funky and mesmerising in equal measure, while the itchy syncopation of Life In A Mind brings a ravey energy to the proceedings. Ross From Friends is becoming a well-rounded artist, and the songs of Tread are a fine testament to that.