Money-can’t-buy endorsements from Will Smith, Pharrell Williams and Casey Neistat, to name a few, have given 23-year-old Perth electronic producer Ukiyo a big head start, and helped him to amass over forty million streams before the release of his debut LP. Now this week his self-titled debut album Ukiyo finally drops to a healthy degree of anticipation and he will see him take his turn to step centre stage in the chillhop movement.
Perth-based Ukiyo, or Timothy Arnott, has spoken about the heavy influence of Flume’s debut LP on him and the references are obvious and comparisons inevitable. It’s all there to be seen, from the colours of the album artwork, to the blissful escapism within the majority of the tracks, to the one-worded self-titled nature of it. Arnott has put out a lot of EPs previously, with 2018’s “Something Like This” (which features on this album) and 2019 collab “Midnight Sun” attracting a lot of love, but never before has his indietronica felt so closely related to Flume’s.
Lyrically there’s also a reversion to what’s going on inside 23-year-old Arnott’s head, with his latest single “Make It Better” discussing anxiety, while “Good Enough” is about finding simple contentedness.
This thirteen track debut is an album of chill soundtrack escapism, and is arguably best suited for the solitude of headphones as opposed to dance floor fillers. In saying that, “Good Enough” is a smooth upbeat track that will win you over at first listen and get people dancing. In fact, it is a killer track which will keep Ukiyo’s egressing momentum up.
There’s some great collaborations on the album too; led by Bajillionaire & Brewer, Feelds, Maribelle, Panama and Sammi Constantine, who reinforces the album’s escapist vibe by repeatedly bellowing “runaway” on the track by that name.
Arnott also shows off his talent as a producer with clever and mature compositions, with the LP gliding through a few different waves, sometimes at snail’s pace and sometimes with more urgency. It’s a balance that requires maturity to achieve.
The Harley Streten comparisons are hard to avoid early on, with heavenly openers “Stars” and “Equi”, before Arnott drops his flurry of singles sandwiching the layered “Friends” which features vocals from JANEVA. “Runaway” is a sublime uplifting track starring Constantine’s vocals, while the drumming on “Aqua Skies” makes for a chill-out headphone banger.
Slightly buried at 12, Ukiyo’s latest single “Make It Better” is an emotion-charged track. The video clip for it may appear cringe-worthy at first glance but that’s exactly the point, referencing Arnott’s own struggles with anxiety and epitomising a leap of faith, paralleling the release of his debut album.
All in all, on his self-titled debut Ukiyo hits the chillhop brief and showcases his bright potential.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Ukiyo’s debut LP Ukiyo is out on November 13th. Pre-save and pre-order the album HERE.