If John Christopher Harris had released only his Natural Mind EP in 2015, he would have had a pretty good year. That EP showcased the breadth and imagination of the local electronic producer, reinforcing the fact that innovative beats and synth creations are bubbling up south of Los Angeles. That was just the beginning, though. Six months after the release of that excellent short-player, Harris unleashed another outstanding set of music bearing the Mystery Cave name, the 10-track Ausarian Comforts.
Ausarian Comforts offers a greater volume of material than the EP, but there’s also a great deal of diversity to the tracks Harris assembles. Harris is an eclectic producer, pulling from various different genres— glitch, hip-hop, IDM and ambient, to name a few—to create something wholly his own. Yet the sequence on Ausarian Comforts is a trippy journey through the various influences and inspirations that run through Harris’ kaleidoscopic sample tapestry.
“Ancestral Ascension” starts off the album dramatically, its distorted swell of synths recalling Flying Lotus and Radiohead simultaneously. It’s a dense and booming beginning to a record that takes continuous detours and left turns throughout, from the world-glitch twinkle of “Ohm Loop II” to the West Coast dance floor bounce of “Chicken & Waffles” and the beat-driven dubstep spa session of “Pendulum.”
Harris maintains a careful balance between chill-out jams and harder-banging dance tracks on Ausarian Comforts, but most of the songs are, themselves, a balance between high-energy beats and laid-back atmosphere. “Little Buddha” runs higher on the BPM count than most tracks here, but if the beats were removed, it would feel more like a disorienting, amorphous ambient composition. The reverse is true on “Comforts”— synth melodies with urgency against beats with a lazy gait. And on “Golden Lampshade,” Harris turns a sped-up Grizzly Bear sample into a ghostly juxtaposition against a series of surging fade-in beats a la J Dilla.
There’s a lot to take in throughout Ausarian Comforts, even though the album itself isn’t a marathon by any means. Harris simply packs a lot into each production, creating 10 rich worlds to get lost in. Once you’re there, you might as well get comfortable and simply soak it all in.