Praised for a versatility not afforded to most, Baltimore musician Sam Ray is versed in the minutia of emotional sensibility. Whether it was wailing in the moody punk outfit Teen Suicide, piecing together sweet lo-fi fit for staring longingly at your ceiling in Julia Brown, or delving into contemplative ambience as Ricky Eat Acid, Ray has proven that, no matter the genre, he can translate a huge spectrum of moods in a way that reads as effortless and quintessentially “what it is” (If you’re not familiar with the rest of his work go here, or here, cause it’s all free as hell again). His new mixtape, simply titled Mixtape 1, is no exception.
On the Ricky Eat Acid bandcamp page, Ray says that he’s “into music that sounds like it’s reaching upwards to God and falling short, over & over.” Mixtape 1 embodies that sensibility entirely. Three Love Songs was an ethereal venture and Sun Over Hills more dance heavy, and Mixtape 1 serves as an almost uncomfortable juxtaposition of those moods.
The opener, “Met You For The First Time”, is adorned with an orchestral sample that sounds like something Madlib would pull out of the dollar bin at a record store. In fact, a lot of the songs sound very decidedly as if they could function as a hip hop beats; it’s apt that Ray refer to this collection as a mixtape. Tunes like “Outside Dan’s House” or “Nasa Channel” with their subtle but notably trap-influenced high-hat and meter break up the more hard hitting and boom-bap influenced cuts like “Skate 2 on Xbox” and the Lanquidity-era-Sun-Ra-almost-tries-chillwave “Daniels”.
The mixtape doesn’t stay in this lane though. On the back end of Mixtape 1 you see Ray kind of descend backward into the more classically ethereal form. Songs like “Town and Country” feel like you’ve just taken a number in some kind of celestial waiting room. As you’re waiting patiently for the inner workings of the universe to be revealed to you, the manically chopped and looped “4th of July” grabs you by the collar and whisks you through an electron cloud.
Mixtape 1 is Ricky Eat Acid at his most nonchalant but ambitious so far: managing to do a lot without sounding like it’s trying too hard, reaching upward to god and not caring that you’re probably gonna come up short.
Mixtape 1 is streaming below: