LP Giobbi – Light Places: Review

I often come across artists that capture my attention to the fullest, furthering my pursuit to listen to their discography or a short collection of songs before an impending release. Recently that has been the case with LP Giobbi, a Piano House star in the making, precisely as she continues to establish an identity beholden to who she is and more. As noted through her Instagram and interviews, Giobbi grew up a Dead Head, i.e., a core group of superfans who used to travel just to watch The Grateful Dead perform, and that has stuck with her today, specifically in her craft. As Evan Sawdley of PopMatter.com noted, “The idea of mixing the music of the Grateful Dead with contemporary dance trends sounds sacrilegious on paper, but for LP Giobbi, it is nothing short of a dream.” We’ve heard LP make remixes of the music of The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia’s music and deliver Dead House sets, blending the music of the former with house; now she’s giving us her debut solo album that continues to highlight her strength as a pianist and electronic musician.

There is no denying the limelight from the effervescent piano notes aligned throughout LP Giobbi’s debut, Light Places. It’s a secondary protagonist on this journey that sees Giobbi channeling Deep House and Jazz notes as she buddies these sounds together with pure rhythmic bliss. It’s like she’s transporting us back to when House and EDM weren’t constrained on particular scales to get magnetic energy from the chorus-drop combo. As it progresses, you hear how focused Giobbi is at weaving the production where you can forgive the two moments the featured vocals aren’t as gripping. Though slightly glaring hiccups, it has a continuous streamlined consistency within the sounds, which gives us a smoother passage that funnels its themes through these interesting starting points, like with the only interlude. “All I Need” begins as this piano-driven interlude that establishes the feeling of support, wherein one’s confidence remains high and focused, knowing each corner of the ring has someone to have your back. When it gets to the actual song, we see those barriers break as Giobbi performs vocally, which isn’t as common here. 

With the occasional guest vocalist, LP Giobbi has an album that tackles consistency considerably. It’s why these featured vocals from Sofi Tukker, Caroline Byrne, and Monogem, the latter two are independent vocalists who get their talents bolstered by Giobbi and her co-producers work, have an emotional consistency with the trajectory of the production. As fantastic as these collaborations are, it’s moments Giobbi takes a step back and works around developing something intricate and mesmerizing with pure instrumentals. On “Follow The Loop,” as told to Apple Music, “I started with one note from a Grateful Dead guitar line and repitched it and replaced it until this loop happened, which I just couldn’t stop playing and following through the song.” And that loop takes Giobbi through interesting avenues that show rich world-building, keeping it far from one-dimensional, like how the varying layers of Post-Disco, House, and Techno are beautifully entwined as it gets a little funky with the bass and piano keys and letting the rest establish it further. The same goes for the smooth cadence of “Georgia,” as it brings in heavy drum patterns to boast the elegant and nostalgically nuanced house synths and bass lines.

Light Places isn’t without faults. As noted earlier, there are two moments where the features aren’t as great, even when the production doesn’t fall flat. After a strong opening two tracks, the album takes a vocal down pivot with “Can’t Let You Go,” which does feel more one note, specifically in the chorus. This similarly reflects in “All In Dream,” where featured artists DJ Tennis & Joseph Ashworth don’t help give the track more than a rudimentary EDM direction that loses focus the more it gets into the weeds of being slightly more tropical and intimate. It doesn’t stand out, specifically with its piano rhythms, carrying a constant motif that we hear a few times – on the following track, “All My Life,” it starts with similar keys but gets explored further as featured artist Sofi Tukker brings this melancholic and melodically blissful performance. Sometimes the vocals carry contrasts to the production, burgeoning this hypnotic trance where you can get lost in the details and forget the subtleties that make the music danceable.

I’m not the most privy to the Electronic/Club scene, primarily because of the financial limitations I’ve imposed on myself, where you won’t find me at a set on a Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Mirage or traveling to Europe just to party, I have a 9 to 5. But I know about music, and as I’ve spent a lot of time digging through more archives and exploring emerging DJs/Musicians, I’ve come to find greatness in the spacious array of sounds getting created. And I can say LP Giobbi’s debut is one of these emerging artists I couldn’t recommend more. What she does with the piano envelops into these luscious overtures that steer her debut album greatly. It is a fantastic musical journey that truthfully lets the sounds keep you zoned in and focused from start to finish.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Overmono – Good Lies: Review

Overmono’s debut album Good Lies is full of rich textures, encapsulating breakbeats and some fluid songwriting as they continue to showcase the range and potency of their music. Like most dance/electronic music, there’s usually a bridge between tones, allowing sonorous self-reflections to exist within a zone of dance fever. The synchronistic connectivity the two have comes from this notion of dancing your problems away, and it does so without being so black and white. There’s depth and nuance within the productions that you’re inhabiting a new sphere of music where vibes are there to get you elevated, but at the same time, intaking these rich layers of sounds that make the whole electronic genre more than just something to dance to. Avalon Emerson’s debut & the Charm (2023) is a great, recent example of that, and Overmono continues to reflect that notion with Good Lies, along with past songs and EPs like “Bby” and Cash Romantic. Though more partial to the Emerson album, Good Lies comes and stays graciously, bringing more sumptuous flavors and an overall immersive vibe that you won’t want to shut off quickly, despite shortcomings.

Overmono has consistently taken various directions to much effect, shifting from the bombastic to the more rhythmic and melancholy, the latter of which is naturally effervescent on Good Lies and Everything U Need EP. Retrospectively, it’s also Overmono’s most personal work, and it’s for reasons outside of some introspective lyrics. It knows how to maneuver repetition for a vast worldview inhabiting the flow of sounds, allowing for these sentiments to carry retention within one’s love for them. It separates a lesser track like “Is U” from something as timidly profound as “Feelings Pain,” creating stumbling drawbacks within its cruise-like progression in the production. Good Lies has fluidity from start to finish, with some sonic components becoming motifs within a song’s distinctive use of electronic instruments. Ranging from the faintish and intimate vocals on tracks like “Good Lie” or “Cold Water.” It transfers through this conceptual bravado, where lies feel equated through its vocal performances and vocal samples. It’s how Overmono can shift between the Dance mode of tracks like “Feelings Pain” to more of a push with a breakbeat core in “Arla Fearn.”

It’s similarly reflective in the transitions between “Cold Blooded” and “Skulled.” Though both add additional flair to the rhythms created with the percussion and synths, they balance a distinct tempo and keep contrasting sounds feeling more connected than maligned. It’s part of an ever-progressing vibe, like if it were getting this mixed live in front of you, but the old fashion way without the different cuts between songs, shortening or lengthening them, more so vinyl to vinyl. Overmono, unfortunately, skips a slight beat by adding a separate track outro to “Good Lies,” extending its exposure and creating a bridge to a more dynamic creative palette. Though there is a fluid transition from “Good Lie (Outro)” into the radiantly techno-savvy “Walk Thru Water,” the former still feels like an afterthought as we get to hear the individual strengths of the Welsh Duo elsewhere on the album. Tom Russell comes from a Hard Techno background, while Ed Russell has worked more with breakbeat and the embodiments of dance-rave music. Bringing those two together offers a distinct palette that meshes – when reflecting in hindsight, were snugger within the contextual dynamic, they become slightly excessive in the long run.

For its synchronicity transitions, there can be both positive and negative in Electronic/Dance music – positive, like how Beyonce orchestrated the crossfades on Renaissance, or negative, like other instrumentation-heavy Electronica, where the vibe becomes engrained in the aesthetic that, for some, it may not gel till later, like on the latest album by The Blaze. At first, I felt it with “Is U” and “Calon,” which feel too enclosed within the vibe that you readily get lost flowing with the tracks near the end. “Calon” isn’t as immersive and more streamlined like “Is U” – never taking the extra step to take it to auspicious directions like the track that precedes it, “Sugarushhh.” It leaves you disappointed when reflecting in hindsight as they don’t bring the same bravado as they do with the atmospheric melancholy or the luscious breakbeats. There’s a synergy between Tom and Ed Russell, where, as brothers, they are tuned to the soundscapes as they get placed and steered in different directions, like the dynamic “Sugarushhh” or the atmospheric breakbeats on “Skulled,” where it has this spacey like backing akin to something from an alien Sci-Fi film. You can sense how they easily find purpose within the styles the other has worked more in.

Overmono’s debut shines through the rough patches as it delivers beautiful soundscapes, which get stuck in your head in the long run. You’re getting something resonant and potent, keeping that aesthetic of dancing feelings away pertinent through the transitions. It stumbles a bit, but it isn’t a pure deterrent, more just middling spaces that lingers on its smooth pacing for a few seconds, but you’re getting something great. I didn’t love it as much as the Avalon Emerson album, but something I know I won’t stop replaying. Definitely check out Overmono, as they come with the Juice, and make sure it’s known as the album closes on a powerful note.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

SBTRKT – The Rat Road: Review

It’s been seven years since the release of English DJ/Musician SBTRKT’s last project, Save Yourself, and now, he’s back with The Rat Road. Though the music has been there, fans have eagerly awaited a follow-up to the former, and who could blame them? Save Yourself was a push away from many soundscapes that aligned Wonder Where We Land, specifically its pivot from bombastic layering. It doesn’t push SBTRKT from getting creative and finding ways to let the sounds glimmer beneath vocals from the featured artists. He did so graciously and remarkably with The Dream on a few tracks on Save Yourself, and that consistency mirrors with a few artists on The Rat Road. For lack of a better term, it’s more melodic and focuses less on a need for drum patterns to define the rhythmic trajectory, pushing his creativity to new levels. That isn’t to say it’s devoid of drums, or rather percussion latent, but what SBTRKT does with The Rat Road is bring forth new dimensions to his craft, allowing for a stellar and mesmerizing journey that comes with a few setbacks, primarily with pacing; yet, I couldn’t recommend this more.

SBTKRT’s absence from music has been known by fans and music lovers alike, and he has been missed. He was privy to that, as he motions to it with the first few tracks that speak on waiting and patience through varying perspectives. However, it’s here that we hear SBTRKT assimilating to the complexions of his featured artists, like Toro Y Moi, whose two songs sound like some cut tracks from an older record, specifically around the time of Moi’s fifth album Boo Boo. The Rat Road is SBTRKT’s most personal album, bringing to life the value of patience as it’s pertinent with themes of perseverance and happiness within music, which hasn’t given SBTRKT the best platform to feel free. As he would tell DJ Mag during an interview, “This album has been my most sonically ambitious record to create – following my own musical path – which isn’t based on other. The Rat Road’’s title is a play on the concept of ‘the rat race’. It’s partly based on my own challenging experiences within the music industry and life generally – though I realised the idea is not isolated from a much wider feeling of exhaustion.”

The Rat Road comes through with the means to keep a flow – finding new ways to build and get to the end with an understanding of his artistry and more. As you sit back and press play, The Rat Road begins to embody and emboldens these sentiments SBTRKT has felt, like angst, isolation, and depression, which we hear with the instruments, especially the piano keys on some songs, but more notably on “Go to Ground.” Through melancholic performances and these whirlwind-like moments after an interlude where the music takes on a new form, using the language of instrumental sound to help build parallels to mood getting expressed throughout the rest of the album. Unfortunately, it stumbles because the little sidesteps to interludes add little to the complexities of SBTRKT’s thematic direction – it’s more so this bridge between tracks, establishing a wide path to dissect, except it lacks some nuance and becomes forgettable in the long run. Some interludes or shorter songs bring emotional connectivity between production styles, building this sonic world further through intricate sounds that don’t incorporate vocals, like “Rain Crush” or “Saya Interlude.”

Though vocals give you a more direct feeling of what the artist wants to say, having instrumental-focused tracks brings a proper space between the directness. It provides listeners this break where we’re hearing SBTRKT’s authentic voice instead of a secondary body that is verbally accentuating what wants to get said. Disappointedly, it doesn’t know how to deliver a proper balance, as some get lost within the progressional fixtures of the album. “Coppa,” “Palm Reader,” and “Creepin’ Interlude,” whether it has vocals or not, feel transfixed in this world where it’s sense in adding unnecessary depth, unlike “Rain Crush,” which sets up some sound motifs, specifically with the piano and synths. After “Coppa,” we are given a three-track run of 90-second or shorter tracks that come and go swiftly, making the album feel meatier than it should be. It stunts the transitional fluidity we’ve gotten between longer songs, like from track 11, “You, Love,” to “Forward,” where it’s at a similar peak as the first four of the album, and most tracks with a featured artist, like phenomenal “I See Stairs” with Little Dragon.

The Rat Road gets centered on making it to the end, like the previously mentioned rat race, which SBTRKT noted it was. Think about the film from 2001, Rat Race, and the zaniness that took place while getting to the finale; SBTRKT follows this trajectory, except the music isn’t zany, instead more creatively fluid, extending beyond and finding new ways to incorporate instrumental layering with the songwriting, especially on “No Intention.” On the song, we continue to hear the strength between SBTRKT and Leilah in this beautiful cohesion of vocals and production, even when elements of the melody or harmony aren’t the most creatively astute. It’s the case with “No Intention” and “Forward;” the way Leilah deconstructs the emotional fortitude allows one to feel that tumultuous relationship SBTRKT has had with music and the music industry. What gets conveyed gets heard beautifully through melodically rich performances from featured artists, Sampha, Leilah, Teezo Touchdown, and Toro Y Moi. For the most part, they bring a sense of vibrancy – more so, the former artists as Toro Y Moi keep it simple and direct, almost leaving one to be a fan to get the most out of his performance.

SBTRKT wears his heart on his sleeve, and it shows, specifically through the unique instrumentations that burgeon through as their own character, making songs feel like duets. At first, it’s an album you could get lost in, but as it replays and replays, you begin to sense where it could have gotten tightened, leaving a more modestly paced progression. Though who am I to complain, since the music is fantastic and the performances – for the most part – elevate it further. For non fans, I couldn’t recommend this more, especially since it’s far from your typical dance/electronic album, bringing more emotional complexities to the fray and hitting it on the money. Also the vibes are great for a summer night.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Avalon Emerson – & the Charm: Review

Explorative and melancholic, Avalon Emerson takes what she has learned via making music and performing music since first tapping into it at an early age, eventually leading to her delivering a fantastic debut with & the Charm. It isn’t a reflection of histrionics and more so a tempered and expansive POV into the mind of someone who aims to take that next step in musical creation, furthering from the more House/Dance aesthetics of past EPs – fewer vocals, more dance grooves – tapping into the corners of varying sub-genres of Electronic music. In doing so, Avalon Emerson continues to dig deeper into the performative aspect of creating an album, one where she doesn’t have to thoroughly rely on the production to form a sense of being as a means for the listener to get instantly catapulted into a positive stupor emboldened by vibes. As you hit play, you get lost within this wormhole of Electronica, some Trance, and Ambient, that Avalon Emerson weaves, allowing us to dig deeper into the complexions of her artistry and sense how poignant her songwriting is.

& the Charm isn’t your ordinary electronic album. It’s composed within this world where the cross-fading mixture isn’t as important as letting the music smooth over as it reflects its themes beyond a danceable mode through viscerally moody vocal performances. It isn’t so much this curated, eclectic mix of songs that fits the specific flow conjectured between genres, whether going from pop or funk to some form of spacey House music or just a mix of tracks that only have an underlying dance motif instead of something viscerally thematic. It takes a more realized approach to a direct conceptual journey you embark on but never truly tire of. When it comes to albums that are the opposite, like from more producer-driven musicians, it can sometimes feel overly hokey, and more often than not, its misses standout out more than the hits. It’s a fundamental distinction that allows Electronic music to have clearer blank canvases to weave their instrumental technical magic from all corners and create something that sounds everlasting, and that’s what we get with & the Charm.

Avalon Emerson doesn’t try to hide within the production despite a few instrumental breaks. She’s letting her vocals become a potent piece of the puzzle – something that envelops the route she set up for herself to through, particularly setting up a melancholic consistency where the vibes become a potent strong point. It’s one thing to get lost in the vibe of the music, almost forgetting that certain parts don’t work entirely, but it’s another when it hits the proper parameters toward what works and doesn’t work for the listener. Though more of something that’s deriving from a personal vibe, it’s very much universal with its sonic appeal that one mustn’t take away from the best element within & the Charm: the live instrumentations, which brings a grounded sense of reality, especially as you heard Emerson sing and create these songs that feel more confined to the roots of intimate pop music than the more esoteric, colorful dancefloor vibe we’ve gotten from various artists, like Nia Archives and Pretty Girl. The eclectic bass grooves bring an emphasis to the subtle dance notes guiding the chillness of the songs, and the music benefits highly from it.

Lyrically, Avalon Emerson treads some familiar thematic territory we’ve heard countless times, but she takes it upon herself to take a differentiating approach instead of being too straightforward and simple. It’s like listening to her perform out of a journal filled with poems that beautifully capture emotional depth within more drawn-out and stylistically atmospheric melodies that boast these notes emphasizing loneliness, love, relationships, and time, particularly how it can shift perspectives on the needs and wants of oneself, through the vocals and production. However, some songs feel more played down and derivative to a fault. It’s like she’s trying to find equilibrium within certain textures, that it rarely dips towards new vocal territory – for the most part, Avalon Emerson finds ways to make it have character, unlike the slightly repetitive  “Hot Evening.” Despite this, running at nine songs, and 40 minutes, it’s more compact as it finds meaning within the conjectures of sound and emotionally resonant performances, whether behind the boards or the microphone. In doing so, it helps build a clear distinction between effectiveness, specifically with its stylistic approach to the melancholy vibes of the final product. It’s what makes “A Vision” more of a standout than “Hot Evening” and “Karaoke Song,” such a hypnotically smooth and empathetically curious performance.

Going into & the Charm, I knew little, having only heard Avalon Emerson’s DJ-Kicks album, but as I kept digging and exploring the caverns of these nine songs, there wasn’t a moment I was bored. It’s captivatingly consistent in vibe and tone, circumventing genre exploration for a direct flow. It’s nontangential, but that isn’t to say it lack depth. There is a lot moving with greatness, from the lyrics to the performance; it opens the door for it to become realized with a sense of personable relativity. I couldn’t recommend this more than the score I give. It was a significant surprise for me, one where I didn’t want to press pause, so there is no denying this is staying in my rotation.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Yuné Pinku – Babylon IX: Review

Yuné Pinku has been slowly making splashes in the Electronic music scene. Though not as transverse on her debut EP Bluff, she rearranges her landscapes, flattening the sonic terrain to allow the synthesizers and percussion to flood and elevate the unique world she creates on Babylon IX, her latest release. Like burgeoning producers from the UK area getting influenced by the constructive and vibrant club scene repopulating in prominence as more and more continue to make grander splashes within the Electronic Music and Pop scenes. Like those already on the forefront – Nia Archives, PinkPantheress, and Shygirl – Yuné Pinku has found opulence within her melodically driven construction; it keeps listeners engaged with the music on a level beyond the club floors and into our brain waves. As it’s been with various Electronic musicians, that bridge between club pop appeal and introspection has been the dividing factor towards where I lean, and that’s why I got hypnotized by the detailed construction, notes, and influential references Pinku weaves together.

Babylon IX is as esoteric as one could expect. Its foundation for its electronic base is more simple than it is complicated, but Yuné Pinku builds over it beautifully. It keeps a consistent cadence in the production, where percussion and synth changes feel more nuanced compared to additional programming work within some songs, like the more pragmatic “Heartbeat,” where it plays with breakbeat notes in tempo. Though delicate with its sounds, there aren’t many avenues Yuné Pinku isn’t willing to go; since she was younger, she played around with soundscapes, learning to build songs around her vocals. In an interview with NME on the 29th of March 2022, she noted, “I’ve always really liked writing, but I wasn’t making music to go anywhere. So I just started adding bits and bobs.” Ben Jolley continues by writing While she originally only utilised her vocals as a backing to her music, over time Yuné’s voice came to the forefront of her creations: “I think you can carry what you’re trying to say or what the feeling is [in your music] a bit more when there’s words to it.” 

As mentioned in the NME writer/interview with Ben Jolley, he makes this note about the song “DC Rot”: “built on piano house keys and a steady kick drum before Yunè’s nonchalant vocals chime in, an unexpected rumbling breakbeat then engulfs the atmosphere and sends the song spiralling into a different direction, before it’s then pulled back on course.” “DC Rot” is a song off her Bluff EP – as great as it is, it doesn’t have the profound nuance of Babylon IX, where the production feels more centralized and pivots to new areas to stay captivatingly smooth. Whether it’s the House percussion of “Sports” or the Trance-like nature within the non-instrumental breaks on “Fai Fighter,” the music doesn’t get lost as swiftly in repetitiveness, becoming more of a non-factor in keeping consistency. Additionally, “DC Rot” carries a specific melodic gear Yuné Pinku uses that’s audibly resonant with individual patterns, like the percussion on “Blush Cut” or subtle sub-portions of melodies within “Fai Fighter.”

From a songwriting aspect, it’s more intimate and personal, reflecting these internalized notions we harbor, like longing or the trials and tribulations of a relationship as it progresses. It’s modest and austere, with its depth coming from Yuné Pinku’s vocal performances, which have this abstentious sense of reality as it never opts to get glitzier than the production suggests. She works around the complexions of the song’s aesthetic as she finds new avenues to get enveloped in, like the Deep House notes of the opening track “Trinity” or the twinkly and glitchy EDM spirit of “Night Light.” The more you listen, the more you get hooked by its beautiful complexities, which boast the nature of Pinku’s mental progression in creating music. Like Pinkpatheress, she’s a producer/singer who’s come out of the bedroom woodwork; the approach to music is more expressive and chill, allowing the vocals to become these poignant layers that do more than just keep you entranced with the same melodic dribble. It’s what separates DJs like Shygirl, Yuné Pinku, Porter Robinson, and Yaeji from those who mastered the tried and true method like Tiesto and David Guetta.

Babylon IX is one of the more well-rounded EPs I’ve heard this year. It meets in the middle, where both sides of the construct excel beyond expectations. It’s one of those things where even if certain core aspects of the performance or its nuanced writing seem to feel lesser, you aren’t wrong for thinking so, as Yuné Pinku takes what works and uses its strengths to make sure what we hear is what was intended. Its hypnotism is at a peak; at 24 minutes, it doesn’t feel like a quick breeze in the park but more spaced out and ingestible. I’m excited to hear where Yuné Pinku goes next in music, but one thing is for sure, if she ever tours the States, know I’m going to try hard and be there.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

The Blaze – Jungle: Review

It’s been five years since the release of Dancehall, the debut album of French Electronic duo The Blaze. Since, they’ve remained predominately quiet, almost seeming to calculate the direction of their follow-up Jungle, which takes form as this antithesis to the livelier, more dance-driven work of Dancehall – creating a space to delve into differentiating emotionally resonant performances that formulate beyond tonal vibes. Whether vocally or through sound, the music carries some thematic depth beneath these atmospheric complexions reflective of Electro-Pop and French House of the 2000s and early 2010s, letting recent nostalgia elevate their craft as they build around it with exponential bliss. The visceral layering of the instruments keeps Jungle afloat through the rangy and mystifying vocals coated with mirroring leveled synths, amplifying the direct delivery of these tracks and letting you feel the impact of its words. The writing isn’t spread out and detailed like most narrative-driven music in pop and Hip-Hop – their identity rings differently. It holds everything together through the dainty trips; even when the writing is more simplistic, it remains potent in its delivery.

Like their first album, Dancehall, it doesn’t take long before the production puts you in a zone without shifting toward something more obtuse beyond a consistent breadth developing through the percussion and synths. You get this quick whiff instantly as Jungle opens to a track resembling something from an early 2010s Bon Iver or STRFCKR album; however, its production shifts the parallel further from it. The vocals are airy and coated behind this screen of atmospheric electronic textures, which creates a nuanced take on pop and French House, almost taking it as a guiding principle and establishing sounds that accentuate with cadence. Whether it’s on the opening track “Lullaby” or the subsequent “Dreamer” and “Lonely,” it separates itself from the production, becoming its own thing where the landscape shifts between being more percussion or synth focused. While it establishes its core direction, one can easily get lost in its vibe, but as you swim through the ten-track album, it’s like exploring new avenues of rich sounds.

Jungle opens strong and continues to build in the middle before ultimately petering at the end as the journey guides you. There is so much to take away, especially its use of synthesizers, which can shift in expression at any moment. Whereas “Madly” brings a louder, glitchier approach with synths flow in BPM with some erratic, consistent tendencies, “Haze” is atmospheric toward its construction as the synths shift between the overlay or underlay. The use of live instrumentations within the construct of its production helps these seamless switches between different sounds; whether it’s more Electro-Pop or more of a derivative of House/EDM, the ambiance is the potent component subtly shrouding the album. “Bloom” is one of many that imbues this sense remarkably, teetering into this captivatingly sonorous moment where the vocals become more of an add-on to balance the luscious electronic oeuvre notes that keep you in this great daze that is as effective.

Unfortunately, all good things aren’t meant to last, so as Jungle comes to a close, it starts to readjust poorly. “Dust” closes the album – it’s a five-and-a-half-minute doozie that encapsulates everything heard, triangulating the strengths, making them all blend, hearing especially through particular, sometimes subtle percussion notes. However, it becomes lost in some repetitive, timid synths, slightly diluting the effectiveness of “Eyes” as a lead-in. It’s as if “Haze” was turned on its head and became a repetitious sound with a singular focus, never playing around to create something more grandiose. It’s a disappointing downturn that makes you appreciate the work coming prior, relishing in these starry components and becoming a sort of skeleton to show us what got taken and explored, just not as dense. Having a weak closer doesn’t hinder it, as there is some semblance of a song, specifically with that slight uptick in the second half. It’s a slow start that gets slightly redeemed at the end. Additionally, it left me wishing they’d build on the songwriting more instead of treading within typical vocal structuring and styles. It’s close to blissful equilibrium, but the minimal imbalance pushes me to feel as entrenched as their debut, but the happiness of these remains intact.

Listening to Jungle was a thrill that builds as sounds expand visually and create unique twists from more apropos Electronic-Pop complexions. It’s a little simplistic, as it’s a more direct, streamlined album that hits many of its notes. I was left vibing and continuing to replay without hesitation. It may not be effective for some, as they don’t delve into more bombastic catchiness and keep it consistent with their identity. Give it a spin; you’ll definitely feel the rich emotional vibes they deliver and more.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Musicians I’m Diggin’: 10SecondBeats

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve last spoken about Electronic artists that have opened doors to distinct sounds that captivate the very fiber of my ear drums. So what better way to return than to talk about a musician/producer. I had the pleasure of having various conversations while witnessing his growth through the varying genre channels he has worked on since the mid-2010s, possibly longer. Whether it’s Hip-Hop or Electronic, Jack Davenport, better known as 10SecondBeats, has been able to dig into his soul and figure out how to weave distinguishably contextual sonic styles while retaining a sense of identity throughout. When we first met, we messed around and turned a piece of the score Saló into this fun Hip-Hop beat that captured the essence of its score, growing to something unique from one of the most random samples. It’s profound, letting the delicate nature of instrumental layering and sequencing boast each track unforgettable. I was left in awe by 10SecondBeats’ consistent output, where the music succeeds past the vibes, creating remarkable work that I had to write about it now.

Jack Davenport studied music, and it shows, especially in how he talks about the artists who have influenced his decadent style. In short, he may not be on the scale of commercial DJs/artists like HAAI, Nia Archives, or even Norah Van Elken – artists I’ve spoken about prior. But one thing is for sure – when tasked with creating music, there isn’t a route he can’t overcome, especially when shifting a sample from one genre to another or understanding context and tone for delivering auspicious work. It’s heard in the minimalist, but captivatingly first album, Long Week, which explores the musical gears churning in Jack’s brain, functioning differently depending on the day. It adds credence to this thematic element, where the motif revolves around daily vibes. The Hip-Hop is vibrant and the nostalgic overtones never feel much, further making pushing the music to higher plateaus.

We hear it on the albums Long Week III, which feels like Hip-Hop swam in the fountain of youth, and the Jazzy, experimental nature of his beats are reminiscent of the 90s boom-bap era. Except for Jack Davenport, he brings modern twists that let you hear how similar-minded influences Madlib, J Dilla, and Four Tet have shaped his intuitive viscosity track to track. You can hear my conversation with Jack on J Dilla on The Twin Geeks Music Show. Talking to him about Dilla gave me more insight into the Hip-Hop tracks Jack created, but his electronic juices have flowed in and out too, in between releases. Jack Davenport released an EP in 2016 called Blink, which laid out this lax vibe and never seemed to teeter toward hollowness, creating beautiful synergy between the sonic elements included, whether coming from the percussion, the synths, or the vocals, which get modulated to fit the aesthetic. Like it, Jack continues to push himself to keep themes poignant, which is harder to replicate fluidly through the various forms DJs perform and create. 


a jazzy Saturday beat I forgot to post yesterday because I went out and drank beer. enjoy this experiment, should I finish this track? #producertok #ukgarage #jazz #electronicmusic #launchpad #ableton #StopScammerTime

♬ original sound – 10secondbeats – Jack D
Last year, Jack Davenport dropped Last Night Club On Earth. An album that imbued the performative aspects of club life, expanding to new horizons, like the beautifully radiant “Her Trembling Hands.” As 10SecondBeats, Jack harnesses the intimate details that coat the base layer and eloquently smooths them through a consistent flow of consciousness. We hear the varying strings and synths on “Her Trembling Hands” or the potent glitchiness of “No Smoking,” the range is fantastic. But there is only so much I can say until I start dissecting every individual track, so at this point, it’s up to you to take this journey through an up-and-comer’s catalog and experience the music yourself.

Skrillex – Don’t Get Too Close

When news came of Skrillex dropping two albums within the calendar year, hype was real, but we never knew when the release date was. Then, the second album became more of a topic of conversation once the announcement came of a release date for Quest For Fire, with some believing he’d pull something akin to Future, who dropped HNDRXX and Future within a week of each other. His second album, Don’t Get Too Close, was released the following day, and unlike the former, it brings depth beyond its more approachable textures that sift between EDM and Dance-Pop. It radiates via potent production, occasionally poignant delivery of thematic inflections, and melodic bliss. It drives a different path, where catchiness comes from the vocal performance underlying the synths to keep you engaged, as opposed to the enigmatic and archaically fantastic production, leaving you engaged on Quest For Fire. Unlike it, Don’t Get Too Close is blissful consistency that continues to shape Skrillex’s artistry beyond being known for making dubstep too BRO; it has some more standard tracks that fit the flow but aren’t as captivating as others.

Quest For Fire builds dynamic intensity within the pores of its percussion notes. A type of intensity that your typical club flair couldn’t capture the energy amassing from the hard-gripping percussion that you’ll just want to mosh instead of relaxing to some crisp melodies that fit a wider audience without thinking lesser of its listener. Quest For Fire is like a rave, a fantastic time, and uncontrollable. Don’t Get Too Close is like having your moment under blue lights, sometimes neon, and vibing more loosely to the sounds instead of grooving chaotically. Quest For Fire has a few danceable moments, like “Butterflies,” “Ratata,” and “Leave Me Like This,” but beneath that aesthetic, the percussion loomed over the synths and bass; it becomes more defined through its individuality. It kept the album centered on a resounding sonic theme, while Don’t Get Too Close does so with its approach to delivering the vocal melodies and keeping its tones consistent. The individual performances wane, some shine, and some hit the nail perfectly while acquiescing with the production fluidly. 

As its main defining contrast, Don’t Get Too Close lets the drums act like a balancing beam that keeps the other instruments afloat as they guide performances, like on “Painting Rainbows,” with frequent collaborator Bibi Bourelly, which shifts vocal styles in song. Skrillex, however, can’t help himself with the drums, but he beautifully incorporates more bombast with the cheeky sequencing from tracks two to five. But within that drum-loaded track three (“Selecta”) and five (“Real Spring”), BEAM and Bladee add excellent complementary vocals to counteract the insane and wicked-great beat drops, which come from equally great melodic-driven drum patterns. Don’t Get Too Close takes influence from Dance/Pop/Trap overture; we see a finite balance that keeps it on a steady, consistent path of harmonious bliss. It’s an antithesis to the more bombastic and lucratively detailed range within its sonic construction. Though some tracks wane because the production doesn’t take an extra leap, it blends with its rich atmosphere.

“Summertime” with Kid Cudi or “Don’t Go” with Justin Beiber and Don Tolliver are the two that don’t land well. They don’t have the same bravado as tracks like “Selecta” or “Mixed Signals,” taking unique directions, which leaves some production feeling more typical. The former delivers a satisfactory vocal performance, but it can’t save it from some bare flairs of its EDM synths guiding through mundane drum beats, but they supplement it with some catchiness. The latter has brought more R&B elements, relaying bland melodies from the two artists. It doesn’t have the slight sazón in “Bad For Me” with Corbin and Chief Keef or the melodically driven jungle-electronica of “Way Back” with PinkPantheress and Trippie Redd. Like them, Don’t Get Too Close has featured artists bringing multi-dimensional bliss within their vocal performances, especially BEAM, Bladee, and Yung Lean, who naturally shine on the production, creating these powerful performances.

More so, unlike the first release, Skrillex and Swae Lee deliver an atmospherically vibrant performance, boasting my enjoyment of this more. It’s swift but richly ingraining a vibe that hits you like a calm spring night beneath the stars with a joint and noise-canceling headphones. It has a clear direction sonically, and it’s better for it. It keeps you focused on a vibe without taking too many distinct heel turns with the production. Its construction is more homogenous, comparatively, but rich creativity gives it new dimensions that shape it beyond your typical EDM and at least has more identity than a posh pop hit from Zedd. It’s on par with Quest For Fire in terms of delivering to fit an aesthetic narrative, but it is just a little tighter.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Ladytron – Time’s Arrow: Review

Ladytron’s latest album, Time’s Arrow, is not as expansive, keeping an almost two-dimensional with many synth patterns and the production’s range in guitar and percussion usage. It takes a while for the wheels to get rolling as lead singer Helen Marnie deconstructs innate reflective points with vigor on many songs. Her vocals add dimensions to each song’s atmosphere and psychedelia tones, seeping into these intricate thoughts that have us viewing some layered dimensions of our being, whether impersonal or not. Marnie, along with co-writers Daniel Hunt, Jonny Scott, Mira Aroyo & Vice Cooler, don’t leave you with ambiguity – the verses speak fluidly through its poetic approach, allowing you to visualize their world, interconnected with yours. It values time beyond the centralized generalizations we’ve heard prior – we get another solid effort that could have gone through another round in the think tank but still a serviceable release.

Starting strong, Time’s Arrow begins to keep its pacing steady, leaving you mystified by its ambiance and fluid melodies. Unfortunately, the synthesizers sometimes feel less intriguing and more of an added commodity that takes away from the small details that underlie the production coating. It isn’t until the later half of “Faces,” the second song on the tracklist, it starts to make sense of its direction – time is linear, but there are rifts that take you in unique sidesteps. It’s playing a bit loose with this concept, sonically, veering and making moments last long or short. It’s a straight shot of pure reflective bliss that stumbles to make anything imperatively potent with the sounds. There are some memorable notes within the production, but its consistency of impact is lesser than their last album. 

Sometimes Ladytron’s use of synths can over-sizzle, and other times it’s a little stale, but rarely in between. However, they never take you away from lyricism that’s lavishly poignant and resonant with one’s inner journey with themselves on a few tracks. In “Misery Remember Me,” we hear Ladytron looking back at one’s disdain for reflecting a person they’re not; it has gospel influence boasting the ponderous chorus and elevating its sense of self while letting the synths take a back seat. Not every track has this lyrical astuteness. Sometimes it teeters toward mundaneness with depth-less simplicity on “Faces” or the lackluster chorus of “California.” Fortunately, it is within the mid-point where the album takes chances beneath the abundance of synths caught between a drought and a rainstorm. Overlaying its poetically influenced lyricism are waning tempos with the different synthesizers they are using; in the long run, it took me away from finding much intrigue with “City of Angels” and “Sargasso Sea.” It’s a disappointing variation in production that keeps it from having a powerful opening and closing.

That middle sector of Time’s Arrow is where it starts to come to life. Beginning with “Flight of Angkor,” the tone gets set with a more fruitful array of synths that bring twinkles to your ears instead of confusing you. Continuing till “The Dreamers,” elements of Dream-Pop get incorporated to buoy the smooth cohesion between monochromatic ambiance and starry melodies. We don’t hear an overreliance on keeping you reeled with atmospheric electronic bliss. It lets the vocals breathe through the thick layers of synths, letting the backing vocals shine through. Additionally, we don’t get this small cluster of contrasting and complementing synths and percussion like in the title song; it oddly works at points, but comparatively, it’s a weaker-written song than the others. It doesn’t negate the vocal performances that radiate beneath harrowing synths that fail to make you return more than twice. 

Time’s Arrow sometimes feels like a distant memory, and remembering leaves you with some slight disappointment. It has these uniquely fantastic moments, but surrounding it, are some less-than-attractive synth layers. The synths don’t take away from the atmospheric aesthetic it imbues. It keeps a steady play consistency that can get a new listener to flow with it, but for fans of Ladytron, this was a lesser effort I wish I could like more than I do.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Taylor Swift – Midnights: Review

1989 came and went with Taylor Swift delivering a defining statement as a pop star. We heard and saw the fire slowly growing since “I Knew You Were Trouble” off Red. But after that, we started to hear her cool down with the electronic quirks from Reputation, which we continued to see with the electronic-focused tracks of her subsequent album Lover. Taylor Swift seems to come across as creatively stunted when given beats/production that emboldens a chance for Swift to go beyond linear synth-pop. Midnights, Swift’s latest album, seems to express a happy medium where she can flex beautifully over chill-out electronica production. Unfortunately, after a specific point midway Swift starts to come across as creatively stunted on the lyrical end, losing that spark that makes the first half such a breezy, good vibe. Comparatively, a modest disappointment, Midnights is a step back for Swift, exchanging rich text with rich sounds that outshine the writing. It left me feeling like it was missing that special spark we heard predominantly in the first half.

Midnights is this conceptually driven album that revolves around dreams, nightmares, etc., as Taylor Swift’s creative juices begin to flow post-midnight on sleepless nights. But it isn’t always there. Per usual, Swift is developing these reflective stories, hypotheticals that stumble in the second half, either from the writing or melodic choices that Swift makes. We first hear it as she turns the page with “Vigilante Shit.” Swift has done this type of song before on “No Body, No Crime” with Haim; however, that track had nuance, and “Vigilante Shit” feels like a poor extension of the former. From there, you get shimmers of the downward spiral Midnight turns. “Labyrinth” sees Swift tackling themes of heartbreak and growth past them, though it isn’t as gripping, and Antanoff’s backing vocals add little depth to the already simple written song. Surrounding the shard stumbles along the way, the production stays consistent with sonic motifs, particularly from the low pitches from the synthesizers, Mellotrons, and Wurlitzers. 

Throughout the album, it does leave an interesting impression, though not negative or positive. Midnights is Swift’s 6th album working with Jack Antanoff, a fantastic musician/producer; however, the mystique loses fizzle after a while. So your first thought could be, “when do we get an original project without Antanoff, add a different personality behind the instruments and boards. Though the carbonation lasts longer for Midnights, Swift’s and Antanoff’s writing isn’t as captivating with tracks like “Bejeweled” and “Karma.” “Bejeweled” never feels like an individual product, taking cues from past pop hits by Swift. It treads familiar water over this crisp electronica beat that tackles the idea of shimmer as a sound. “Karma” doesn’t have excellent writing, and with oblique melodies, it becomes more of an afterthought in the long run. In “Labyrinth,” the focus is on the atmosphere, but the random drop near the end, though simple and effective elsewhere, doesn’t have that same impact as if you coasted through a track that emphasized more of an emotional core.

The production of Midnight takes from ideas from three “musical eras” of Taylor Swift, the synth linings of 1989, the electronic intricacies of Reputation, and the lyrical complexities of Folklore/Evermore. However, the height of it comes with potent first from “Lavender Haze” to “Questions…?.” Taylor Swift isn’t relying too much on whimsy and fantasy, like confronting people with her boyfriend Karma, instead reflecting on growth. In the blissful “Maroon,” she reflects on a love story that isn’t sparking with youthful fire and rather a humbling tale of togetherness and loss. The use of maroon as the defining color boasts the complexities of its story, like the color itself, complex hues of brown and red reflecting the complex dynamics of a relationship as they express beyond pure honesty. As it is with most of Swift’s songs on Midnight, themes reflect love through different purviews, culminating in varying lessons learned and emotions exhumed.

“You’re On Your Own, Kid” has us listening to a tale of a young person yearning for love, as if it’s this end all, be all; a crutch if you will. As she wistfully drifts into the night, the detailed writing and resonant melodies open your mind to the emotional truthfulness that hits our protagonist in the song. It continues to transfix you like the tracks that precede it. “Anti-Hero” brings forth the past eras of Swift–ones I’ve mentioned before–the livelier synths of 1989, electronic tones like “Delicate” from Reputation, and the lyrical complexities of the Folklore. It isn’t loquacious, and the auditory hand that grips you closer is tender and smooth, unlike the delivery of later songs. Fortunately, after the mediocrity in most of the second half, Swift grounds back into reality and offers something unique with the last two tracks, particularly “Sweet Nothing.” “Sweet Nothing” is instrumentally simple, mirroring her relationship with Joe Awelyn, deconstructing the importance of understanding and growth–she has finally found someone who hasn’t cared about the fame that comes with dating Swift.

Midnights is a minor step back for Taylor Swift, but it isn’t this albatross that fails to hit the mark. Swift came with direction; however, that won’t always constitute a great album. Though linear and coherently consistent, it doesn’t get elevated to the degree past albums have been, specifically 1989 and Folklore. There is a lot to like here, with some solid repeat appeal. Unfortunately, it left me yearning for something more, especially as I sat there listening to Swift sing and elevate the idea of karma to people from her past.

Rating: 7 out of 10.