Traffik Island is the project of ORB frontman Zak Olsen, and sees him drawing more inspiration from the laidback side of sample wizards like DJ Shadow or The Avalanches than ever before. Whereas previous effort Nature Strip featured vocals and more garage rock grit, Peanut Butter Jam does away with the vocals entirely and instead fleshes out the arrangements and samples. The result is a great little album chock-full of ideas.
The tracks are all remarkably consistent, being generally short-form pieces that establish a groove and make a tasteful exit before things get too boring. Almost every number here has something to say, whether through a fun riff or an interesting sound. Opener Bits and Piece throws together an Avalanches-themed mix of hip hop percussion, lush strings and voice samples. It gives way to opening single Ulla Dulla, a cosy jam driven by a series of fun guitar and flute riffs.
Seafood Extender is a moody Doors-esque piano improv over an undulating sequencer and synth chords. Dropz is a tasty jam featuring catchy electro lines and all manner of bleeping sound effects atop a skittering organ riff. Pluck is the highlight, playing off of several variations of an atmospheric guitar and organ riffs through crackling TV static.
Charlie Is My Darling sounds like a cut from King Gizzard’s all-acoustic Paper Mache Dream Balloon, a child-like but oh-so-catchy ditty featuring some acoustic guitars for a change. And Go!, the most rock-informed cut on the album, is an excellent Krautrock jam centering around a kickass space guitar riff. Only closer Bliss overstays its welcome with its gargantuan four minute running time. If I wanted to hear Dream Theater I’d listen to the real thing.
If it were for the breadth of ideas alone, this would be a perfect 10. Its intentionally lightweight approach means it’s unlikely to change anyone’s life, but this album is a must for any fans of instrumental hip hop, or any garage rock fans looking to branch out.