Ando San has been blazing a trail for himself in prog-hop for a few years now. You’ve seen him here on the site, Plaid Sessions, and numerous vibe-heavy SoFar Sounds performances, each of which relentlessly establishes Ando as a triple-threat with virtuosic guitar and production skills topped off with killer flow. Oh, and he’s also got an incredible looking signature guitar from Ormsby, which you can see here.
But these advantages, as any talented person could tell you, rarely amount an easier journey. Somehow, despite Ando San’s mountain of skills, he’s kept it all extremely low-key, and taken steps at his own pace. Luckily for us, this has resulted in some exciting thematic experiments, like last year’s Humble and 2022’s Bi-polar. These short but vulnerable looks at Ando’s inner workings have helped endear a core audience, but again, there’s no shortage of talent here – even at his most introspective, he’s always delivered in a way that kept us moving.
This propensity for killing two birds with one stone, if not three, was actually teased with two singles from last year in particular, “Juggle” and “Zamn.” Though the latter is technically a remake of a song from his 2018 EP, Ando secretly gave us a taste of the flavors he had been working with while writing the followup to Bi-Polar. The song was far more padded up and featured more central guitar lines, as opposed to the minimalist / beat-heavy approach of the original. It also still had slap and thump lines, but the melodies were ringing out more, and were overall just far more present. We knew it sounded great, but because Ando has a fluid, non-linear trajectory that’s mostly been sampled through singles and EP’s, we couldn’t really say at the time if it was a conscious step or just a particularly successful experiment.
Now that Seeing Pastures is finally out, we’re ecstatic to report that it’s status as a full-length followup is beyond warranted. Check out lead single “My Nirvana” below.
Seeing Pastures comes at a time when many of us have second thoughts about what we’re doing in life in the face of so much chaos and/or planned obsolescence. Thoughts of futility, existentialism, and simply being being broke are far more complex than they sound on the surface. Songs like “Chosen” and “I am The One” perfectly capture the struggles of anxiety in the production, guitar lines, and of course, his lyrics. You can still hear his classic thumps and staccato loop techniques, but it’s all deeper and darker than ever before. By the end of the record, which comes far too soon, it’s a fair statement that it just might be Ando’s best offering yet.
Here’s the blurb from the Bandcamp, too:
“The entire theme of the album is questioning is it even worth it to suffer to do something you love? While you are simultaneously enjoying the suffering because it bears fruit for your artistic soul. Feeding in it’s ego and recognizing that the confidence you had when you first started is gone so you try to get it back by suffering while questioning is it even worth it? Never ending cycle.”
That’s a slice of wisdom and sincerity that should not be taken lightly. It took us years to even remotely consider the idea that taking a step back from music was a possibility, and to realize that happiness could ultimately be a lot simpler than what we had anticipated. But don’t get us wrong – conflating musical dreams with the late-stage capitalist reality might seem naive at times, but above all it is free, direct, and effective. You’re basically born with music inside you – why not let it out?
We’re reminded all the time that music is one of the most effective and immediate medications you can seek, whether it’s a broken heart, broken society, or a broken arm. But our favorite reminders aren’t shattered, hopeless things. They’re records like Seeing Pastures, that inspire you to put the pieces back together. If you’re looking for something that scratches a similar itch to Thundercat, but you like complex, webcore-shred adjacent stuff between Varra, Manuel Gardner Fernandes, and The Surrealist as well, it doesn’t get better than Ando San.
Don’t forget to check the whole thing out here, and if you love it you can even get a vinyl over here from Choke Artist. Coming up we’ve got Cotoba, Southpaw Sonata, Gabba, and more, including the East Coast Compilation and our first Not Another Fecking Gear Review! It’s all happening. And it is exhausting as hell. Buy us a coffee here. Thanks for reading!