This summer was great for new music, especially music created in a small-scale manner. With quarantine, indie musicians had more time to focus on making unique and high quality music. Social isolation encouraged indie musicians to find their sound and ultimately put out some absolute bangers. One such album released in this storm of summer boredom is called “Reaching For a Star”, by the artist Potsu. Potsu is widely known for his lo-fi hip hop beats, with one very popular example being “im closing my eyes,” a beat used in the billboard hit “Jocelyn Flores” by XXXTENTACION in 2017. These beats are widely known and popular as a result of their grainy and withdrawn sound, which is a refreshing contrast to fast paced, stimulating mainstream pop music. Potsu is widely considered “mainstream” in the lo-fi community because of the popularity of his music. However, the popularity of his music hasn’t changed his style of production. Potsu still produces his music without outside help, which helps the music maintain its “homegrown” style.
“Reaching for a Star” is one of the most ambitious albums released by Potsu so far, and it highlights his full potential in terms of both musical knowledge and songwriting skills. In this album, Potsu stays true to the chill vibe that he is known for, and manages to raise the complexity of his music, allowing for the standalone tracks to be listened to in many different ways. Potsu’s songs can not only be engaging and enjoyable to actively listen to, but also nice to just have on in the background. He keeps the harmonic structure of regular lofi consistent throughout this music with an extremely prevalent “2-5-1” chord progression, but also adds some more complex and vaguely jazzy choices of chord extensions that create a much more lush harmony. Potsu continuously added vocals to his music, recruiting artists from various genres to sing and rap over his beats. Though this is not unheard of in his previous music (he featured the artist Chance Thrash in “take me there” in 2018), it is very uncommon and adds yet another dimension to this album.
Potsu adds yet another layer of complexity to his album with his use of microtonality. In short, microtonality is the use of slightly uptuned or downtuned notes or chords that do not fit into the twelve tone functional harmony that the vast majority of western musicians use. Though the application of microtonality to lo-fi music is not novel, Potsu uses it tastefully in a way that adds to the music. Microtonality shows Potsu’s listeners the applications of a system that the western world refused to acknowledge for hundreds of years.
Potsu’s album “Reaching for a Star” is an unique and forward thinking album, undoubtedly created by intense boredom and a large amount of free time. Of the albums released this summer, “Reaching for a Star” is one of the best and is definitely worth a listen!