Fleeting Thoughts Vol. 2 Cover

Fleeting Thoughts Vol. 1&2 from buhlü

My friend buhlü has just released the second part of his album, Fleeting Thoughts, the first release he’s put out in 7 years. This two-part beat tape is a groove-focused collection of musical ideas that showcase a wide variety of styles and sounds that he has developed in his music production journey.

Fleeting Thoughts Vol. 1 Cover

Fleeting Thoughts Vol 1 is the more downtempo and vibey half of the release. The leading track from Vol 1, Tapedeck Malfunction’, sets the tone of the first collection and provides a relaxing soundscape and mysterious mood. Contrasting the opening track is Waterlogged Transmission which then takes the listener in a different direction with half-time transitions and bubbly sounds and glitches. The album takes another turn with Birdsong and Purrrrrrrrr, which explore a more cerebral spectrum of sound design and downtempo meditative beats. This volume of the release concludes with Human Music and Lull-A-Bit, which remind me of classic Aphex Twin from their percussive elements contrasted by mid-range analog tones and glitchy textures.

Fleeting Thoughts Vol. 2 Cover

Fleeting Thoughts Vol. 2 takes the listener on a more upbeat journey. Sneakers opens up the collection of beats with a pensive groove and some nice sine-based sounds dancing on top. The next track, Breakfast of Champions, has retro Rhodes groove on top of funky percussion. Then Swerlz comes in – it’s another funky track that adds to the composition of the previous track with some mid-bass movement. Big Feet closes out the album with some tasteful scratches over a really big one-two punch of percussion. The articulated bubble sounds that were present in Waterlogged Vol 1 are brought back in this track composition for the listener and the volume concludes with a pleasant questioning resolution.

I really enjoyed this release from buhlü and look forward to his future releases. You can support buhlü and the Fleeting Thoughts Vol 1 and 2 releases from his SoundCloud.

Continue reading for some Q&A with the artist!

Q&A with buhlü

You mentioned this is your first release in 7 years, did you curate from 7 years of work to produce these volumes or are you coming back from a break?

I’ve been producing the whole time, but I got really stuck for a long time on whether the songs I was making were “good enough”. I felt like my 2 earlier releases had some really great ideas and emotions behind them but looking back I was rather disappointed by the execution. [These earlier releases] are no longer on my Soundcloud, but if you dig down in the Danktronics catalog they can still be found. So this collections of songs in Vol. 1&2 were created over the span of the last 5 years and a lot of them were created in pairs Tapedeck Malfunction and Waterlogged Transmission were one after another, as were Purrrrrrr and Birdsong. So I was sitting on this big collection of songs, and sat on them for a while, but in the mean time I was making more music that I thought of as being “better”, and I realized that if I don’t release all of these first, they’ll never see the light of day.

In the time that you’ve worked on this release, what do you think has been your biggest area of growth as a musician and artist?

There are 2 big pieces of growth that happened and both of them are thanks to other people. For the first, I started collaborating with Pacific Patterns and Underbelly on a new project that we called Beverage Collective. Both of these guys are absolute Ableton wizards – I highly recommend checking out Underbelly’s YouTube channel, You Suck At Producing. I came into this project as I always have, trying to make something “good”, but I ended up having to surrender a lot of that and just have fun with the other guys, which ironically allowed us to make some of my favorite music I’ve produced. Simultaneously, I have to give a lot of credit to Michael Cullen III, who is a truly wonderful human and friend, and who pushed me to put out my first single since the releases 7+ years ago on his Destinuna Label. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to that release was really encouraging and pushed me to let more of it out into the world.

I felt like I heard some Aphex Twin / Squarepusher inspired sounds in this release. Are there any specific inspirations behind this album or your music that you really would like to highlight?

Some of my biggest inspirations for this release are instrumental hip-hop artists such as Dilla or Madlib. When Madlib put out the album that was arranged by Fourtet – Sound Ancestors – I’m pretty sure I had that vinyl on repeat for months. Others for this time period include Shlohmo, Nosaj Thing, Nujabes…that kind of vibe. Squarepusher too for sure though, the fact that he was able to do so much with so little for that first album is incredible. I remember reading the inside cover of the album where he breaks down what he used for various songs and just being blown away by the story of it.

The band Air sometimes referred to their song Venus as being a “song to be listened to around the house all day long” and I feel like there is some context that you imagined your listener enjoying your songs in. Are there any places / environments that you had in mind when writing some of these songs?

Great question. A lot of music I’ve made over the years is inspired by a particular place. I’ve taken a field recorder everywhere I’ve traveled in the world, so Birdsong for example has some bird sounds from a jungle island in Cambodia, and Breakfast of Champions has some kids playing on the swings by my old house in Portland. That being said, other releases have focused more on places, whereas I feel like this release was more about trying to discover my style. Playing around in the realm of hip-hop inspired rhythms while being influenced by the likes of Tipper or Kilowatts or Somatoast to create soundscapes around the beats. This album isn’t so much about places, but one of my favorite releases of all times is the EP Places by Shlohmo which feels like each track is set in a different place, and that has influenced a lot of the music that will be coming out shortly. I’ve been working on a video element for these new songs, going out into different beautiful places in nature to shoot footage, and then to set each song in a particular place. That stuff is going to be a little gentler, more Teebs and Boards of Canada inspired.

Links and more resources

I want to give a huge thanks to buhlü for sharing some background on his latest release with my blog. Please check him out and support this album on SoundCloud!

Watch visual videos for the release:

Watch Sneakers on YouTube
Watch Tapedeck Malfunction on YouTube