“I’m craving, I’m craving, hedonistically raving

I’m tired of sinning and lying, misbehaving

I can’t go on acting like your tool

On the tarot deck, card zero: the fool”

Philadelphia-based filmmaker and musician Ryder Houston brings the glory of trip-hop back into the fold with a melancholy ode to lost potential, 6 Degrees. The song’s melody and chords had been sitting in limbo on his computer for years, waiting for an outlet, until tragedy solidified their meaning and purpose.

“I received news of someone I had long been infatuated with passing away,” Houston explains. “I had never met them, but felt so close to them. So close, in fact, that I was only one sordid relationship away from them. They were the ex-lover of my, at the time, most esteemed paramour. I cried to myself, not being able to extend comfort to either parties, separated by a strict and unwavering set of circumstances. Never before had I felt something so strange and implacable. In my heart, I knew it wasn’t my time to grieve, and still, I could not escape the way I felt.”

Houston instead found solace and comfort in creating music as a valentine to the departed.

The song’s creative use of sampled sound works well with Houston’s journey of introspection; the sounds of half-remembered tracks on a long-ago college radio station, voices floating through the ether, and the ghostly memories of what could have been. Following in the tradition of classic trip-hop anthems, 6 Degrees borrows its drum loop from Janet Jackson’s If, as well as sampling electro-static from Garbage’s Stupid Girl. Houston’s approach to throwing sonic Easter eggs in his music brings to mind the genius of Carl Stephenson, whose project Forest For The Trees and work with Beck Hansen in the 90s brought Jungian philosophy and psychedelia to hip-hop. The Avalanches also ring through here, as Houston sleepily regresses hypnotically in his metaphysical rant.

Ryder Houston directed the video for 6 Degrees, turning the city of Brotherly Love into a gloomy monochromatic dreamscape transcending space and time. His German Expressionist approach highlights the emotions with frosty silent cinema touches and frenetic camera pans on Philadelphia’s dark streets and underground metro lines. Watch below:

Ryder Houston was born in a small Dallas suburb. At age 19, he released his first feature film, Rapture in Blue. Included on the original soundtrack composed by himself was the film’s haunting theme, Wine (A Sea Of Future), performed by artist Ariana Kelly, who he would continue to collaborate with on his upcoming album, Neither Wrath Nor Punishment. The synth-rock LP is inspired by alternative artists like Ultra-era Depeche Mode, Garbage, and Nine Inch Nails, while the more electronic tracks owe their lush sound to downtempo artists like Massive Attack and Sneaker Pimps.

Included on the single is the shoe-gazey b-side Limerence No. 6. Also coming at the end of October is a special remix EP called 6 More, featuring alternate mixes from Houston and other up-and-coming artists.

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