Album: SOHN – ‘Tremors’

SOHN

SOHN’s talent is undeniable. Since his first releases he always received attention and plaudits as a singer and producer – including prestigious productions for Kwabs and Banks. His songs Bloodflows and The Wheel definitely deserved this appreciation, but somehow I was never totally sure if he would get the outmost of his already proved potential. In the run up to his debut-album ‘Tremors’ my concerns were confirmed: Artifice felt like the appetizer that I just wasn’t waiting for. It felt plastic and overproduced while SOHN excels in the more bare and warm tracks.

His debut-album kind of affirms this duality: one half of the album is beautiful, and the the other half feels overdone. The beautiful half of the album contains the more subtle and subdued songs like Tremors, Veto, and the already released Bloodflows and The Wheel. In contrast are the songs that are more aggressive in their production. Songs like Artifice, Fool and Ransom Notes don’t match with SOHN’s tender voice. It feels like SOHN’s biggest lack is the inability to bring his talents – both singing and producing – to a synthesis on ‘Tremors’.

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Album: Chet Faker – ‘Built in Glass’

Chet Faker 2

Following the release of debut album ‘Built in Glass’, Chet Faker challenged its reviewers not to get stuck in thinking in genres. Artists that say these things might come across snobby, but they are assigning a weak spot in music writing. In giving a description of the sounds heard, a genre-reference is often the easiest way to go. But with calling Chet Faker an RnB artist, his music is thrown in a huge tradition with all sorts of connotations, which might just deprive the sounds of the chance of ‘being heard as they are’.

On Built in Glass, Chet Faker put this challenge into form. Its total is impossible to fit under one umbrella and its components cover a too wide range of sounds to be squeezed in one word. Well aware of his voice’s potential, essayistic lyrics are smeared on choiry adlibs, reeling between push-forward head-bobbing rhythms and more modest and reserved compositions. From lipping and sobbing sequences, the tracks might suddenly erupt in dramatic cries, with the persistent feeling that Faker knows what he’s doing. It makes a daring and even more interesting whole, which might bring as much joy to those that call him an RnB artist, as to those that want to look further.

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Chrome Sparks – Goddess

Chrome Sparks

At first it is unclear what goddess Jeremy Malvin, better known as Chrome Sparks, is telling us about in his homonymous track. Things do get lofty, as dim and dusty synths lead us to deep kicks and guitarry synths, but they’re not celestial. It’s part of what we know from the previous ‘Sparks EP’: those powerful and driving sounds, kept in control by lingering beats. Though, that EP also made a second promise. In milliseconds, its tracks could turnover and move to different heights. Right when remembering that promise, this track went divine.

With endless repetition of trance builds and house drops, the definition of ‘musical ecstasy’ has devaluated a lot. With Goddess though, Chrome Sparks restores some of that value. A third in, synths go skyward in guiding melodies. Not leading to any kind of drop or redemption of accumulated emotion or whatever, but simply to stay skyward for a mere minute. We meet the goddess in the form of a prolonged sequence of harmonies, but without anything to hold on to, we aren’t able to stay there. As the divine ecstasy fades, we return to the dim and dusty beginnings. When, in our everlasting search of divinity, we simply hit replay.

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Album: Slime – ‘In The Brick House’

Slime

We haven’t heard from Slime, the multi-instrumentalist and Vondelpark-relative from Newcastle,in a while. After he released his latest ‘Increases II’ in 2012, the perfect follow-up of 2011’s ‘Increases I’, it remained silent around the youngster. While Vondelpark drew attention with their perfect debut album ‘Seabeds’, Slime apparently worked on a new sound in silence. That sound is presented on his new mixtape ‘In The Brick House’ and is truly different than on his previous EP’s.

The mixtape sounds a lot warmer and less electric than earlier work, thanks to the use of different instruments. Especially the addition of various horns is noticeable (Set In Solva) and the songs are structured into different parts, which also makes them less repetitive. The collaborations with different vocalist are also of added value – Brainfeeder-member and rapper Jeremiah Jae on Patricia’s Stories and George Maple on Sonnet. Slime made a risky choice by changing his successful and upcoming sound, but it was worth the risk. ‘In The Brick House’ is a superb effort of an exploring and gifted musician. It’s available for free, so download it right now and give it an attentive listen.

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Album: Mac DeMarco – ‘Salad Days’

Mac DeMarco

I’ve seen Mac DeMarco performing one of his famous live concerts in Amsterdam. Almost all the ingredients were there: he pulled off his shirt, he climbed around the venue (including the balcony), he yelled some crazy things, he wore his famous cap, he played his guitar until his fingers were bleeding and wiped the blood on his face, but most importantly he played some great music. Everything can be said about his freaky appearances on video and in live shows, but Mac is also an ingenious musician with an extremely remarkable and innovating sound.

After he released his previous album ‘2’, I had the anxiety that he couldn’t exploit his music anymore; the album was based on his typical but somewhat unilateral guitar playing. Mac DeMarco proves the opposite with ‘Salad Days’:  he kept parts of his typical guitar sound, but added something to it. The songs are deeper and slower, and Mac’s sluggish vocals never bores the listener – even though he doesn’t vary much. Mac managed to remain the jester of the alternative music scene, while ‘Salad Days’ sounds – in contrast with its title – more mature than his previous releases. Hopefully his live shows will never get mature; probably Mac would play his new repertoire naked or hanging of a balcony.

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