The joy of realizing your dream life can be so profound that you feel invincible, confident enough to fly a kite while perched on a cliff. Prolific Michigan producer Apollo Brown transposed the happiness he’s found in his career, family, and circle of friends into his latest album: This Must Be the Place. Brown’s first instrumental project since the grimy noir, Thirty Eight (2014), This Must Be the Place is a continuation of the celebrated Clouds (2011) and a departure from it. Clouds was melancholic boom-bap made for the fall, the soundtrack to a ruminative walk through a leaf-strewn park beneath gray skies, but This Must Be the Place trades somberness for warm nostalgia and glimmers of hope. Brown offers moments for reflective gratitude and portals of escape through new permutations of East Coast-rooted boom-bap, his drums hitting with concussive force as snares crack like ice on midwestern lakes.
Though Brown is a consummate and discerning crate digger, he sought different source material for This Must Be the Place. After soliciting compositions from ten trusted sound designers, Brown holed up in his basement home studio, looping, chopping, and deconstructing their work to create 21 wide-ranging productions. Thumping music box grooves (“Butter”) and wistful, jazz-imbued suites (“Nervous Goodbyes”) bump next to ethereal intergalactic funk, beats accented by synths that glint like stars shooting past psychedelic nebulae with drums seemingly sourced from colliding asteroids (“Escapism,” “Jupiter Gold”). For every instrumental that inspires reflection, another transports you above the clouds and to the cosmos. At every sonic turn, This Must Be the Place can remind you to appreciate living the life you imagined or push you as you navigate there.