On her debut album Ways, San Francisco-based classical-musician-turned-electronic-music-producer Xyla creates serpentine soundscapes that steal the listener away from the ordinary and into a realm of unexplored possibilities. Through self-taught production methods, Xyla makes tracks that flow seamlessly through footwork to IDM, techno, ambient, and jazz, utilizing classical instrument samples. It’s all highly evocative of complex emotions like heartache, loss, and the exhilaration that new beginnings can bring.
The record opens with “Shoot,” an atmospheric track with lush synths and whimsical, high-pitched samples that builds itself up with footwork percussion. This bleeds into the IDM- and techno-influenced “Feel.” That “Feel” could easily appear in a club set doesn’t seem like an accident, as Xyla plays with emotional highs and lows throughout Ways, pushing listeners into reflective, introspective head spaces. One of the few tracks that uses vocal samples, “Now,” features slightly heavy and melancholic synths on top of a layered choir sample that fades in and out of the song. It’s a dense sound exploration that has a sense of urgency despite its moody atmosphere. Xyla keeps surprising us throughout Ways, prompting us to reconsider the boundaries of genre and to embrace the concepts of fluidity and change with grace and vulnerability.