Samuel Proffitt is much more than a musician – he also wears the titles of Russian literature and art scholar, lecturer, museum curator, and PhD candidate at Brown University. He has a new EP coming out on July 24 called Shades, which astutely combines the producer’s knack for though-provoking electronic arrangements with live orchestration and guest musicians, making it Proffitt’s most sure-footed outing yet. Today we’re premiering a track from the upcoming EP called “Sounds (Звуки),” which serves as the soundtrack for a short film he created along with director Sofja Umarik.
The song opens with light instrumentation and a hand-clapping downtempo rhythm as various works of art become semi-animated. The vocals are heavily effected, making them a slow drawl that’s popular in hip-hop and experimental electronic music. Along with the electronic instrumentation are swells of live violins as the song builds towards several crescendos, only to watch the wave of sound fade back like the tide going out.
When Proffitt details the production of the short film that accompanies the release of “Sounds (Звуки),” he makes it clear his own expertise in the world of Russian art and literature. While the original plans for the video were scuttled by COVID-19, he arrived at a creative solution that resulted in a visual that’s extremely fitting for the thought-provoking electronic track.
“When the work on the short film for ‘Sounds (Звуки)’ began, the original plan was to shoot it in Russia but due to COVID, we soon realized it was no longer feasible,” said Proffitt. “Luckily, thanks to Inuka Bacote (the video commissioner at my label), within a few days I was introduced to Sofja Umarik. In the process of working out concepts, I sent Sofja a collection of Russian avant-garde art that through the course of my PhD left an indelible impact on me. Something we both immediately connected over was the well-known photograph from the 0.10 Exhibition where Malevich first presented Suprematism. This photograph served as the starting point (see the beginning of the short film), which, through a subsequent evolution, grew into a physical manifestation of art as both an event and a concept. As Sojia began to work with two experimental animators, Luke Ramsay and Sofia Negri, the film acquired a certain tactility and sense of immersion that I always strive for with every piece of music I create. It is this perpetual becoming and dissolution, this unrelenting transformation of the shapes and figures that underlines the feeling of collapse and dissolution I felt when I first wrote ‘Sounds (Звуки).'”
Proffitt released his debut EP in 2015, Blue Notebook No. 10, which saw him establish a sound that was far away from the clubby, trendy mainstream EDM sounds. 2016 saw the release of The Grey Notebook EP and in 2019, the Good Death EP. Shades, the first release by Proffitt to feature collaborations with other features guest vocals by Bailey Baum and Allen Tate along with Brand New’s Vincent Accardi adding guitars, string work by Phillip Peterson, along with guest production and mixing by Ariel Loh.