SINGLE REVIEW: Why Can’t You? by Celiane The Voice

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https://celianethevoice.bandcamp.com/

Celiane The Voice could be roughly described as an R&B/pop singer and songwriter, but her music encompasses a broad range of influences including soul, Latin pop, Broadway music, dubstep and hip-hopera. She surmises her own style as electronica hip-hopera. Hailing from the Bay Area, California, she cites equally diverse influences on her music such as the late, great Amy Winehouse, Origa, Tina Quo, Adele and Pharrell Williams, to name but a few.

This song, Why Can’t You?, was written and performed by Celiane herself and produced by Bill Williams. Musically, it’s an infectious fusion of dubstep, classical, R&B, hip hop and pop which showcases Celiane’s eclectic musical versatility. Starting with moody synth strings along with beautiful harp and woodwinds, it then bursts into a hard hitting Skrillex-style dubstep beat and a gut-punching saw-wave synth.

For the verse, Celiane enters with an immediating captivating vocal performance, the music switching to a more R&B/soul vibe. Her voice is charismatic and commanding, which acts as a cohesive glue on the music’s disparate elements, giving the track its sonic identity. It also features some breathtaking harmonies on the memorable chorus, augmented by a melodic piano motif.

Lyrically, it addresses a relationship where one partner is unable to appreciate the other’s emotional commitment, devotion and love: “I love you, do you know what that means? It means I will do anything, it means I will lay down my life….”. After the second chorus it breaks down to another excellent section built around a vocal refrain before the chorus returns, but with a totally different beat! The continual musical metamorphosing across the track’s five minute duration is breathtaking.

Overall, this is a remarkable single by an artist who seamlessly combines disparate musical genres into one organic whole, underpinned by a strong understanding of traditional songwriting values. The result is something both commercial yet quirky and highly original, with a sonic surprise around every corner. Celiane The Voice has emerged fully formed as an artist with a unique style, and Why Can’t You? deserves to be recognized as both a great song and a hugely inventive piece of composition and cutting edge production.

 

VERDICT = 9.2 out of 10  

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:

 

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E.P. REVIEW: Chutney Chasers by aVIE

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aVIE is an RnB/electronica artist hailing from Houston. He had an itinerant childhood, which is partly the reason for the eclectic range of styles and genres that have influenced his music. He describes his music as Psychedelic/Punk RnB, which is accurate but he also incorporates dubstep, DnB and trap into his musical vision. He regards his influences as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Radiohead, amongst others.

This EP, Chutney Chasers, is his debut release and he describes the EP as a “story of a young colored man’s struggle with exotification, identity, addiction, anxiety and role”. It starts with the title track, a languid yet intense concoction of falsetto lead vocals with aVIE’s smooth-as-honey rapping style. Not many artists can claim such versatility as both singer and emcee, and aVIE’s gifts are the equal of similar artists like Frank Ocean. A fine start to the EP.

Tapwater shows another side to his oeuvre, starting out as fairly conventional RnB before developing into a fantastic hybrid of dubstep and DnB, with aVIE delivering his skills as a rapper once more for good measure. This is cutting edge 21st century pop, a futuristic meld of modern styles which aVIE pulls off effortlessly. The Self is another contrast, a hymnal, reflective track with some almost angelic lead vocals counter pointed with distorted spoken word sections.

New Feathers is another excellent track which again shows the influence of Frank Ocean. It’s exquisitely produced RnB with avant garde touches that lift it out of conventionality. Lyrically, it’s an inspiring song about personal transformation: “I’m cleaning the system, creating religion….”. A potential single.

Midnight Oil further consolidates his essential signature sound, an intoxicating melee of skittish rhythms and inventive production touches that somehow remains cohesive. The final Take Care is a beautifully melancholy acoustic ballad, beginning with strummed acoustic guitar and aVIE’s tender lead vocals, containing some troubled lyrics: “I’m drowning in alcohol…”. It builds gradually into a dark epic, reaching a cathartic climax at the end. A beautifully crafted and performed finale to the EP.

Overall, this is an absolute slam dunk of an EP by an artist who is fresh on the scene but whose artistic identity and style is fully formed. With soul searching, intelligent lyrics set to music of eclectic style, emotional depth and restless invention, aVIE has a lot to offer the music world and I expect Chutney Chasers to make a strong impact. I also predict that aVIE is going to be the next big thing in RnB, he’s simply destined for the world stage.

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:

E.P. REVIEW: Other Worlds by Drone Flesh

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Drone Flesh is an electronic artist/producer hailing from Zurich, Switzerland. His music is a unique hybrid of electro, house and dubstep or complextro, as he describes it. His primary musical interest is in “exploring different genres of bass heavy music that does not fit into a drawer”. He has already released several tracks including Do Not Touch, Risk Everything, Big Bad Bass and Petrified, to which I gave a very positive review in 2015.

In the intervening years he has developed and refined his style further, creating a futuristic sounding hybrid consisting of techno’s precise beats, dubstep’s punch and vitality and the sophistication of complextro. His musical raison d’etre is best surmised by himself: “Drone Flesh ignores the rules, controls the madness and turns the chaos into complexity.” This is very much self-evident on this four track EP, Other Worlds.

Opening track Be Yourself throws you into the deep end straight away, the musical equivalent of a rollercoaster ride. Pounding four to the floor kick drum competes with syncopated filter effects and tension-building risers before bursting into a full beat driven by a pulsating low end synth bass.

It goes into an excellent percussive section around the 1.30 mark that made think of The KLF’s acid house classic What Time Is Love? It has a similar sense of euphoria and momentum, maintaining the energy till the end. A barnstorming start to the EP and surely a hit waiting to happen on the dancefloor.

Second track Ride The Waves maintains the feverish intensity of Be Yourself, again propelled by a slick synth bass and a colossal, equally dubstep-inspired beat. It takes the essential sound of Deadmau5 and sends it into space, with interesting results on re-entry. Indeed, things takes a rather psychedelic turn around the halfway mark, before returning to its hard hitting roots.

It should be mentioned how Drone Flesh has raised the standard of his production to a fine pitch. Whilst his music always had a vitality and force, he has raised the bar even higher so that his beats and melodies burst from the speakers like Skrillex on PCP.

That’s actually a very adequate description of third track Hey, which is a joyous explosion of riotous rhythms and distorted, angular synth melodies. This one has a synth riff best described as mindblowing, incorporating vocal samples and sound effects with highly intoxicating and enjoyable results.

The title track of the EP is also the finale, accompanied by a video that’s well worth watching. It’s a slightly more mellow track than the rest, yet still hard hitting. The sonic textures again border on Dali-esque, with a cornucopia of chaotic sounds and melodies combining and synergizing. This is perhaps Drone Flesh in his purest form, ripping up the traditional rules and genres then morphing it all together to create something genuinely original. An apt way to complete the musical journey.

Overall, this is an inventive EP from an artist who has blended electronic genres in a way I’ve not heard anyone else doing, let alone with such panache and style. Owing to the danceable nature of the music, it has the potential to spread like wildfire in the clubs. Drone Flesh shows that the world of EDM is still full of exciting and barely explored sonic territory, and he is leading the way to something new.

 

VERDICT =  9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

Listen here:

Watch the video for Other Worlds here:

 

SINGLE REVIEW: A Fighter’s Heart (part 2) by Untitled Art

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Untitled Art is an EDM project based in Florida. It’s the musical brainchild of singer songwriter David Sempier, assisted by producer/partner James Linton. While he chooses to remain as enigmatic as the band’s moniker, the small amount of music Untitled Art have released in their short duration has had a strong impact on music listeners and critics alike.

Their music is a fascinating and unexpectedly original concoction of electronica, dubstep, alternative rock, psychedelia and indie. They employ semi-traditional song structures with the most modern electronic styles, comparable to what New Order and The Prodigy did in the 80’s and 90’s.

Their first release, Philly To Long Branch (Part 2), blended the energy and sound of dubstep (warped and morphing sawtooth synths and blistering drum sounds) with alt. rock guitars and vocals, along with trippy, blissed out psychedelic sections (the latter featuring on the remix). This eclectic concoction made a big splash, garnering tens of thousands of views on YouTube.

Aside from their original sound that’s bang at the cutting edge of modern genres, a key component of their musical personality is David Sempier’s distinctive vocals. With a tone mildly reminiscent of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, but with much more power and range, he gives the music an anthemic aspect that bodes well for their potential exposure on the festival circuit.

All these elements are in place on their latest release, A Fighter’s Heart (part 2). It’s a more aggressive, yet at the same time more accessible track, than their first release, with a plethora of naggingly catchy hooks (“I’m a fighter with a fighter’s heart now“, something you can imagine being chanted by thousands”).

The production is superb, with punchy, intricate synths melded to a brutal kick and snare sound that will work just as well on the dancefloor as at a festival. It breaks down and builds up like a great dance record, yet works just as a great EDM/alternative pop record.

Overall, Untitled Art have managed to forge the perfect balance between EDM/dubstep and the anthemic, emotive elements of alternative/punk rock to create their own fututuristic hybrid sound. In David Sempier, they have a vocalist that gives their music power and personality aided by cutting edge production,  so their appeal stretches right across the musical spectrum. In short, I’m putting Untitled Art at the top of my list as the ‘next big thing’ and A Fighter’s Heart Part 2 could be the song that catapults them into the stratosphere

VERDICT: 9.1 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

Listen here:

SINGLE REVIEW: Hands Up by Sound Beach ft. Alaska MC

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Sound Beach is a DJ and producer hailing from Seville in Spain. He started out by DJing for friends and then putting on raves in various venues of Seville. He was then given the opportunity to play various festivals including Seville Fair Festival, Soul Breaks and the Foam Break Festival in Cadiz. He was also the finalist in DJ competitions like Tear Nation 2012 and King Of The Beats.

This track, Hands Up, is an uptempo electro dubstep track that starts with a pounding kick and snare dubstep beat. Alaska MC lays down a spoken word ad lib that gets your attention immediately. We hear a swirling synth riff in the background before chords come in for the instantly catchy chorus hook: “Put your hands up, wanna see those hands up, gotta get them hands up…”.

About a minute and a half into the track we hear some Skrillex-style synth growls which is a common feature in dubstep and adds to the excitement. It breaks down around the three minute mark for a long, very effective build up which makes the beat all the powerful when it kicks back in. Even though it’s a long track at six minutes, it maintains its energy and momentum to the end.

Overall, this is a blazing dubstep track that will go down a storm in the clubs, but is also just enjoyable to listen to. It will be a happy addition to any DJ set and definitely has the potential to be a hit with its addictive chorus hook. Also well worth checking out is the hip hop/trap remix produced by JC from the US.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.5 out of 10

 

E.P. REVIEW: Nerve by BogglesWorth

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BogglesWorth is an electronica music artist and producer, hailing
from Yucca Valley, CA, USA. He sees it as his musical mission to
bring originality to the EDM scene and his music is somewhat
difficult to categorise as just one genre. It is a blend of 80’s electronica,
90’s Hip Hop, as well as aspects of techno, house, trance, dubstep
and punk to create an innovative hybrid sound.

As you can tell from his chosen moniker, BogglesWorth thrives on
being unconventional, quirky and strange. His bio states: ‘From his
music to his life, this rebel is always pushing the limit. Society may
question his humanity and state of mind but normal is boring. BE
ODD! ‘. This EP, Nerve, consists of six instrumental tracks that
showcase his unique approach.

First track Beeper makes an impact straight away, starting with
short synth stabs of a melodic chord progression which is soon
joined by a pounding dubstep beat. I loved the way the beat enters
on the offbeat, and it’s these small details that immediately set this
music apart from the mass of generic electronica out there.

After adding a high end synth melody on top of this progression it
then enters a Skrillex-style ‘growl’ section. The beat drops
out and we hear an intricate melody on a bleepy synth sound that
combines with the original two melodies perfectly. The beat then
changes from half-time to full time, incorporating some highly
intricate and subtle drum fills. The rest of the track juggles with
this material, alternating half-time and full time, or the beat dropping
out for dynamic effect, as it does at the end. An impressive opener,
both in terms of arrangement and production.

The excellently named Scottie’s California Cornflakes comes next,
featuring another addictive synth riff and a punchy four to the floor
beat. The intro goes through a lo-pass filter sweep, a popular dance
music production technique. It gives the effect of sounding like
being outside a club, then hearing the music with clarity as you
enter.

This track is more commercial than the first, essentially
mainstream EDM, though it does have some quirky production
techniques thrown in. After a riser that I thought might blow my
speakers up, it breaks down to just kick and bass around the two
minute mark. The track is gradually built back up with a high end
synth melody providing movement. It then becomes Daft Punk
electro disco for the last minute, aided by some funky handicaps.
Another great tune.

Third track, the unusually titled Bill Clinton, starts out for the first
minute as chilled Balearic house, which made me feel like I was
sipping a cocktail on a beach in Ibiza. Around the minute mark
enters a five-note synth melody that sounds rather like a
saxophone (possibly wear the title arises from? Bill likes to
play…). Again, it breaks down in the middle and builds up the
elements of the music, though this is probably the most sparse and
laid back track here.

The title track comes next and it’s a different beast altogether, a
real melange of styles that perhaps exemplifies how Bogglesworth
stands out from the rest of the electronica crowd. It melds
atmospheric synth lines and swirling beeps with aggressive low-end
Prodigy-style riffs and a pounding dubstep beat. There is some stellar
drum programming once again as the beat becomes more intricate
in the middle (you can hear the 90’s hip-hop influence at this point)
before a spectral sounding breakdown. It then builds to a ferocious
end section. As ever, you never quite know where the music is going
to go, the polar opposite of the EDM by numbers that fills the charts.

Fifth track E.Z. carries on the dubstep vibe and is perhaps the
most wild one here (the most Bogglesworth?). It alternates
between a superb swirling synth melody and sections of Skrillex
growl taken to the max. This production effect is made by a
detuned saw wave put through distortion, but on this track a
vocoder or formants are used so that it almost sounds like a
vocal.

Last on the E.P. is Blue Tuesday and it’s a nice way to finish. It
starts with a long, gradually building intro that creates tension before
bringing back the stripped-back Balearic house feel of Bill Clinton.
The moody, slowly morphing and pulsing synths create a spacious
atmosphere and momentum in the music to bring things to a blissed out
close.

Overall, this is a fine E.P. by an electronica artist/producer who
ignores all the rules about how it should be done, and this is the key
to his originality. Defining your own sound in the world of
instrumental electronica is no mean feat, but Bogglesworth
achieves this through hybridizing several genres, sometimes within
the same track. He already has a large fanbase and this will
continue to grow with material of this quality.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

 

SINGLE REVIEW: Eyes Frozen Cold (You’re Not Alone) feat .AGE. by Tristan Hendy

Logo__DJ_Tristan_Hendy_Original  Tristan Hendy is a producer/songwriter who lives in Los Angeles. He has been involved in music since only five years of age, initially learning the piano. At thirteen, he had a moment of epiphany when he found was able to express himself through his own compositions and this began an obsession with music. Since then, he has been exploring and writing in many diverse genres and styles, with this track a hybrid of hip-hop, dubstep and electronic pop.

It was recorded, mixed and produced by Tristan, with sampled vocals from Arlissa’s well-known You’re Not Alone and featuring male vocals/rapping by .AGE. It begins with futuristic synth lines and dizzying effects floating over a laid-back, hypnotic dubstep beat. The verse vocals are performed with panache and conviction by .AGE. who depicts an encounter with a U.F.O. with his ‘third eye open wide’. Certain lines are emphasised with harmonies which is a nice production touch, adding to the ‘ear candy’.

This leads to the You’re Not Alone section, (which makes sense lyrically, with the extraterrestrial theme) a four-to the floor pounding kick leading to an effective build. The second and third verses carry on the leftfield lyrics, (‘brainwave constellations…’, ‘mystical music’ etc.) giving the track a psychedelic vibe that fits with the chilled-out feel of the music.

Overall, this is an extremely well produced electro-pop/dubstep track that sounds very much of the current era, bringing to mind the hugely popular Major Lazer in the blending of styles that’s still suitable for the clubs and radio. I’d expect Tristan to get some real buzz and serious airplay for this great track.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10