Mark Redito’s ‘Natural Habitat’: Chill beats to grow and photosynthesize to
Fall is here, and lately I’ve found myself hard swinging between two moods: either chilling out and letting everything just vibe, or yearning for a night out at the long-abandoned clubs and music venues so I can forget about all my problems. It’s just my luck, then, that right in October, as the weather finally starts to mellow out and Filipino American History month is in full swing, that I come across Mark Redito’s latest project, Natural Habitat. And with it, I found that it’s possible to have both.
Of course, chilling out and having a night on the town might seem like polar opposites for some, but for Redito, these two moods are one and the same, as all of the tracks find a well-curated balance between being simple meditations and thriving club beats.
Coming in at a grand total of seven tracks, the project is not nearly as expansive as last year’s Neurotropical (which we named as one of the best albums of 2019), though it nevertheless contains polished and memorable hits that keep with the tropical, jungle-laden theme. However, while Neurotropical focused on tropical futurism — defined on Redito’s Instagram as imagining what the future looks like for tropical peoples and for people of color — Natural Habitat is moreso centered on plant life itself and the symbiotic care that both humans and nature have to offer each other. Redito states, “Yes, this album is about plants and nature but also it’s an album about intentionality and mindfulness… of going inward… taking it slow… and experiencing things much more deeply.”
The album contains chill, personal tunes such as “So in luv with u (fit. Reese Lansangan)” and “Nowhere Left To Grow”, both of which feature Redito on vocals. Though we covered the former in a previous review, its slow romantic groove nevertheless offers a matured contrast with the latter, whose lyrics, co-written by LA singer-songwriter Hollis, lament “I don’t wanna hurt you / But I don’t wanna lie to your face / Anything we do can’t stop the decay.” Like plants, “Nowhere Left To Grow” acknowledges that relationships can fade and decay over time, but that these abrupt ends are oftentimes yet another point of growth; after all, such is the natural cycle of life.
There are still classic Redito club hits too, like “Anne,” “Offering (Sacred Drums),” and “Anthurium (ft. Simone Vitale),” all of which are instrumental beats with heavy kicks and iridescent electronic layerings that would make anyone want to move and groove to the tempo. Redito’s masterful use of fading layers of vocals, strings, synths, and samples in and out over a sweeping rhythm shine in “Anne” and “Anthurium”, while spacious, elongated chords pump over fast-paced drums and driving vocalizations on “Offering”, making it sound like a forest suddenly came alive with music.
One of the jazzier tracks is the swing-filled “Watering Routine”, whose bird-like flute flavorings and versatile synth noodlings drip with iridescence like morning dew, giving off almost a city pop-type vibe. The final track of the album is perhaps a personal favorite, though: “Tropical Meditation” ties together the electronic, chill, focused energy of previous tracks in a slow, reverberated meditation, while undulating and spacious rhythms help drift your worries clean away. With watering and meditation samples throughout, this is the perfect track to help you and your plants grow, heal, and stay mindful.
Accompanying the album are several visualizers and surreal 3D Blender pieces created by Redito himself, who says he took up the hobby since quarantine started. These, along with a vinyl edition that has a download code printed on plantable seed paper, add even more layers to experience the album on. The project, and all of its accompanying aspects, make it a labor of love, much like the houseplants and flora that you might be taking care of within your own biosphere. When put together, Natural Habitat shows us that with sunlight, nutrients, good vibes, and a little patience, we too can grow into something great.
So, who is this album for? Well, normally I’d recommend playing it if you’re in one of two moods: you want to chill out, or you want to dance your butt off at the clubs. But I think the smarter recommendation would be this: play it for your plants, then play it for yourself, so that you both can grow, photosynthesize, and fall right back into your groove.
Natural Habitat is out now via Zoom Lens.
Jacob Ugalde is a writer, musician, and pasta enthusiast based in Los Angeles, California. A jack-of-all-trades kind of type, Jacob works in many different fields, from computer programming, to visual design, to film production, to music making, to whatever else he can get his hands on. His favorite musicians are Phoebe Bridgers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Vulfpeck, Luna Li, and Louie Zong, and his favorite video game is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. He thanks you for reading this all the way to the end!