San Francisco native Charlie Yin, better known by his alter-ego, Giraffage, composes a world where hordes of Gublernation characters would flock to. His intertwining melodies are sweetly sexy, buoyant, and full of youth and longing, yet he manages not to overwhelm his audience. The Berkley alum continues to live in the Bay area, fine-tuning his electronic music creations and exploring new ideas and worlds to paint on his listeners.
After his debut album, Comfort, dropped in late 2011, his music captured my heart from that moment forward. Comfort has a very clear theme to it bubbling with romantic nostalgia, dream-pop melodies, and warm synths. It’s one of the happiest albums I’ve had the pleasure of listening to in a long while – not once did he deviate from that buzz. It’s an album to listen to in the buds and fruition of a relationship – it’s fresh, hopeful, and sexy, which seems to be a common thread in most of his releases.
While the first track that originally put Giraffage on my radar was the sensually catchy gem, ‘LUV,’ the one which dealt the most impact with me was ‘SLO.’ It’s one of the shortest tracks on the LP but reminds me of a sample Nujabes would have toyed with in his production. The piano is more natural sounding, with glimpses of synths peeking through, but that piano. Damn.
After Comfort, he continued releasing singles and EPs before accompanying fellow electronic producer XXYYXX on a European tour. This time seemed to mark a significant growth in Yin’s production style. He also had his other project, Robot Science which he created a specific sound for; this changed, however, when he began merging Giraffage and Robot Science together, making music which has no real name to describe it. You can’t lump it nicely into any one category – he, in fact, mastered the art of seamless genre-blending.
2012 was the year for Giraffage to lay out his foundation and truly expand from there. His sophomore album, Needs, dropped earlier this month which takes a significant step from his debut. It has serious depth and an exploration of sounds which were previously left untapped. He took more of a risk with this album, deviating from his trademark production style and sounds, though he still sprinkles samples we’re familiar with.
This is still an upbeat album, though it has a tinge of sadness and even a hint of malice. This isn’t overt, by any means. Rather, it’s like sitting out overlooking an ocean, where the water is perfectly still and it’s completely calm; then, you look over your shoulder, and you notice dark clouds on the horizon, but you’re still at peace.
In a tweet or Facebook post (which I can’t exactly recall), he informed us that the writing of this album occurred during the best and worst times of his life, and he does a beautiful job of conveying those emotions to us. This is Needs.
It’s comprised of quite a few reworks of singles he released in 2012, but he puts it into a cohesive LP with grittier sounds with some serious groove. You can hear influences of his travels and interactions with other producers like XXYYXX, Oakland-based ones like shortcircles and James & Evander, as well as Star Slinger and Bondax. There’s some future garage beats, synth-pop, beloved R&B samples, glitch, and dream-pop.
We’ve known for a long time now that Giraffage is making some serious waves in electronic music. Keep your ears open and expect more gold from this guy. He’s on a brief US tour over the next few months, then will be heading to Europe with XXYYXX, Blackbird Blackbird, Slow Magic, and Beat Culture. There are more US dates coming up in the future so be on the lookout for those.