Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Jordan's Album Round-up: March

Lapalux - Nostalchic

The debut LP for 25-year-old English producer on Brainfeeder Records, is as much a lavish culmination of sampled instrumentals and vocals, as it is a charming treatment of sound as a sensation than simply a direct sensory interaction. On this twelve-track record, we are treated to the familiar trading specialty of RnB melodies and electronic sampled instrumentation. But in it, there's a hint of IDM here too and the warmer nestling for analog synths for us to soak ourselves into. But like the downtempo artists that have come before him - or quite simply those eager to play with the wandering fling of vocals alongside many a production techniques - Lapalux's offering to the enormity of the instrumental electronic round-table, dithers at times as much as it so equally makes a valid point in becoming a face to remember.

There's no denying Lapalux's lenience towards vocal infusion and the textures with which they can provide - or even drive - an accompanying instrumentation into outputting. The likes of Guuurl or One Thing for example make careful calculations and leave sparse for slip-ups when confronting the usage of looped vocal samples to mesh into the swirling warmth of electronics alongside it. Said sounds as a result involve a very natural, unveiling-like sequence to how they progress, as much as to the way they're dressed up and presented. But this meets the spliced, chopped vocals in a rather matrimonial fashion, and against the warming palette of synths and percussion, the vocals exert a roomier distance but more appealing air as a result. Without You on the otherhand - where lyrics are key and pitch is played around more - emphasize however Lapalux's eye (perhaps fondness) for in-the-moment emotion and sensitivity about such detail. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen less experimentation with pitch and more clear-cut reasoning for the way vocals are played around in such a manner, as is the case with the slow-burning heart-beating pulse of Dance. Here, the spliced jolt of pitch to and fro, as well as the reverse/forward shift of sounds, leaves the musical aesthetic feeling slightly childish and less complete than its counterparts.

But away from vocals, whether it be the dramatic upturn/downturn of Kelly Brook or the stern underwater monotony of The Dead Sea, there are some interesting formulae of instrumentation where vocals act rather as another musical layer than simply a hold-together core to the piece. Whether it be sharp effect-laiden beats, dynamic latents of brass, or perhaps the electric boggled keys as featured on Walking Worlds, the textures with which these sounds offer enough shift from the previous perspective to offer a spectacle to divulge over, on the next. While not overly dynamic in its choice of sounds, the emotional perspectives and use of toning to draw relations between the vocals and the instrumentation, gives Nostalchic (while not numbingly detailed at the atomic level) a pleasant and colourful spot for the outdoors as much as it is a charming and ideal sit-down-and-relax settler for the mind.

7.3
 
Kavinsky - OutRun

Following in the foot-steps of like-minded electro house icons Justice, Yuksek, Mr Oizo & SebastiAn, french producer and song-writer Vincent Belorgey, a.k.a. Kavinsky, continues the current crop of young French House artists rising from out of the energized clubs of Paris, and through the sound system of the World's curious ears. From the cover alone, you'd think OutRun was made out to be an opus of electro house; a daring feat fuelled by the 80s story of speed, adrenaline, emotion and excitement it so desperately wants/attempts to convey to its listener. Surprisingly, you wouldn't be far off from the truth of the matter. Belorgey less-than-contemporary take on the French club sound is anything but dormantly lying to such a place.

While I won't deny Belorgey putting drive and forward momentum (they're the last car-related puns I'm using, so fear not) into his own take on the french house sound, here unfortunately, there's no more than what we've come to expect. Heavy, punchy drum rhythms as is with Blizzard & Testarossa Autodrive; minutely detailed and crystallizing synthesizer hooks on tracks like ProtoVision or Grand Canyon; vocals swollen and pitched as if basking in a sea of helium on Odd Look. While the elements and individual layers at times offer some interesting sound-bites, the execution isn't quite as well thought over. It's not as convincing to denote this as an artist fully relishing in his ideas coming to life - more a 101 lecture on the theory of french house. The music comes off sterile and calculated, without any real soul or emotional extract. The problem then comes into view, and that Kavinsky's somewhat safe, somewhat confined sticking to the regularity of the genre's sound, makes what does spring out feel less a hook or a lead through the music, and more just an overused cliche or musical trope.

Where Kavinsky succeeds, is where he plays around with progression and how the track eventually/gladly reaches its pinnacle unveiling moment. Rampage has a much nicer intensity to it and suits his concept of speed, adrenaline and the unknown rather well. Unfortunately, in as much the same manner of change and mixing things up, when Kavinsky offers vocals to come to the fray on Suburbia, the lyricism and tone with which these are expressed is quite dull and unexciting against what is an equally less-attractive glitter of electronics. In the case of the purely synthesized and electronic, the abrasive shattering of the ground beneath our feet or perhaps a moment which finds us taking a second breath, never really comes. Though the drums offer some means of build and lead, there's never really a time - especially on the second half of the album - that requires firmer attention to detail. A lot of what is happening is preferred just at a mid-point, as opposed to directing our attention or nestling in the back creating tone or atmospheric tension. In result, the rather mediocre composites of electronic beats and percussion take away from what may or may not be a crucial plot or subject running through the record. We lose so much focus, we unfortunately begin to not even bother pondering over such concerns.

4.8



 Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety

For a man choosing the french translation for 'I want no other', US-based musician and song-writer Autre Ne Veut is certain to show a sense of confidence and understanding even before his audience has even had chance to inspect and analyze. Following on from his self-titled debut in 2010, Anxiety could perhaps be the realization as much as it's the coming-to-terms point in his still-young career. As his sophomore might suggest, the ten-track follow-up is laiden with hidden RnB suggestiveness, funk-influenced flickers of vocal swing and lyrics that, above all, suggest a lenience marketed towards the emotions, as opposed to the face and frontal commercialism that a lot of young up-and-comers immediately draw strength from. But even if the intent is to lessen the difficulty on album two, Autre Ne Veut is one of the pinnacle moments when the sophomore hoodoo is not only broken, it's redefined as less a problem and more a strength for liberation.

Anxiety is a personifying of close-net relationships, long-lasting emotions and musically, an album that picks its spots and works them to unprecedentedly detailed degrees. Opening track Play By Play is as much a relish for soul and the human reaction as it is a gracious working with synthetic sounds and synthetic overlay to create texture. Counting too showcases the album's less extrude, but more minimal and personally-tied connection with Ne Veut's use of beats and electronic rhythms. But the man's passion and high-end skill for song-writing and melody comes up trumps on the gorgeously-crafted Ego Free Sex Free. And at times on tracks like A Lie, Gonna Die & even the chambered baroque of World War, Ne Veut's not only uses vocals (both his own and backing alike) to great effect, but seeping into the music, the voices transform into instruments themselves.

With so many RnB-revival albums coming out as of late - and plenty of these releases capturing all the tenacity and raw emotion the genre has known to illustrate in the past - it's great to find an artist who not only dispels such expressions, but too breathes life into his craft. The result of Anxiety is of patience yes, but when the time is right, makes most of what it has by pouring into us an atmosphere that is both absorbing and liberating. Autre Ne Veut may not be the most charismatic of musicians, but through his use of beats, his careful placement of tone and the unquestioned emphasis on vocal exertion, RnB is proven once more it's a genre that's not only been given a new breath of life, but too is as much a crucial sound, and a fascinating one at that.

8.3

~Jordan

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