E.P. REVIEW: Lavender Galaxy

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Lavender Galaxy is the artistic moniker of a musical collective that consists of executive producer Eric Remington, engineer Nick Ortega and the vocalists Nekane, Marvin Fockens and Antonia Fountain. Their combined talents fuse to create a blend of RnB and melodic house that brings to mind artists like Pharell Williams, Rihanna, Major Lazer and Dua Lipa. This year has seen the release of their first EP containing  five tracks, which have quickly become very popular on streaming services.

The EP starts off with the sultry dancehall-infused RnB of Paradise, sung superbly by Antonia Fountain. Driven by decidedly funky slap bass, the breakdown chorus and build up is very effective, the EDM synths giving it a modern sounding edge. A very fine piece of songwriting, performance and production with plenty of commercial and dancefloor appeal.

Livin’ It Up is a fantastic follow up, an intoxicating blend of Get Happy-style RnB/disco with the slick, funky grooves and propulsive basslines of Jamiroquai. Featuring the charismatic and smooth lead vocals of Marvin Fockens, the track is laced with catchy hooks, including the pulsing Giorgio Moroder-esque synth arpeggios.

Every section of the song is memorable and addictively catchy, the anthemic chorus celebrating a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle. It sounds like the hit of the summer waiting to happen.

Third song, I’ll Follow You, is another potential hit, once again featuring the gorgeous voice of Antonia Fountain. Set at a stately, slinky tempo, Antonia delivers a sexy Rihanna-style vocal over a bedrock of chugging, rhythmic synths and a punchy beat. The chorus hook is mesmeric and irresistible (“We’re turning up the music and dancing till the sun rises…”).

Fourth track Lip Gloss is built around a sturdy 2/4 house beat and a revolving four chord synth progression. This one features the ethereal and enchanting vocals of Nekane, another gifted singer in the Lavender Galaxy collective. With its immediately addictive chorus hook and ‘easy on the ear’ sound, it has versatile potential as both a hit in the clubs and on radio.

The EP closes with another Antonia Fountain-sung track, Here You Are. This one is a potent fusion of dubstep and RnB, with a powerful vocal performance from Antonia. It’s perhaps the most cutting edge track in terms of production style and genre, and, as with the rest of the songs here, has a killer vocal hook that sticks in the mind from the first listen (“You turned me upside down….”). At the risk of repeating myself, this also has strong potential as a separate single release and it’s a fine way to finish.

Overall, this is a first rate modern RnB/house EP from Lavender Galaxy, featuring  five songs that stand up in their own right. There are very few EPs where every track has hit potential, but that’s exactly the case in this instance. Having a plethora of singers in their collective gives richness and variety to the sound, along with the mixture of genres and production styles. With further material of this quality, I’d say that Lavender Galaxy have a very bright future ahead of them.

 

VERDICT = 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:

 

SINGLE REVIEW: What Matters by Sienna

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http://www.sienna-web.com/

Sienna is an avant-garde EDM artist who is currently based in Norway but originally hails from Japan. Her music is an inventive meld of electronica, house, jazz and traditional-contemporary Japanese. She has performed extensively across Europe over a 10 year period as both a performer and DJ. She has collaborated with renowned artists like Nils Petter Molvaer, a psychedelic trumpeter from Norway, Mick Karn, an English bassist (now deceased) and famous group The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, whom she opened for in the UK on several occasions.

This song, What Matters, is a wonderful showcase for her unique musical sound. It’s a six minute alternative electronica track that floats serenely over a blissfully laid back beat. Starting with Sienna’s evocative and distinctive vocals, she is joined by sparse but effective percussion and pulsing kick as well as subtle, ethereal synths. We also hear an exotic, Japanese instrument somewhat reminiscent of a sitar.

As the song progresses, the arrangement builds gradually with flourishes of delay-drenched piano and around the four minute mark the drums progress to a full beat. This languid groove syncs perfectly with the vocal melody, which is augmented by tight backing harmonies.

At the five minute mark prominent strings played in quartal harmony take over, bringing the music to a haunting conclusion. Lyrically, it is rather poignant, about letting go of the pain from a romantic relationship with acceptance: “Some scars don’t fade or heal easily…..may you be a bird to fly high and free…”.

Overall, this is a highly original piece of alternative electronica which captures Sienna’s unique artistry as a singer, songwriter, musician and producer. She has developed her own style and signature sound, though natural reference points would be the cinematic and dreamy sound of Lana Del Rey, along with the avant garde eclecticism of Bjork. Hopefully, enough people will get to experience the magical Sienna sound as she deserves to be widely heard and appreciated for her intoxicating, innovative art. I look forward to hearing more of her work in the future.

 

VERDICT = 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Listen here:


 

SINGLE REVIEW: Something Else by Cap’n Richie

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Cap’n Richie is the moniker of dance producer/songwriter Richard Richter, who hails from the Netherlands. His music is essentially in the EDM category, but he combines genres of EDM in his own inimitable style. So far this year he has already released High & Higher Volume 1 and an EP of old school DnB (drum and bass) called Instead of Words.

He has also released High & Higher Volume 2 from which this track, Something Else, is taken. This release has already reached 123,000 streams on Soundcloud alone. Something Else is a mixture of house, glitch and DnB, an unusual combination which works very effectively. It notably features the female lead vocals of Odilia Carmen, who gives a charismatic performance.

It begins with a mind blowing, almost psychedelic array of glitch and DnB beats melded with constantly morphing synths and atmospheric effects. Olilia’s soulful vocals enter, also put through all manner of production tricks. After a short section of complex vocal refrains, the rhythm shifts to a more regular four-to-the-floor house beat along with the very catchy title hook. The rest of the track alternates between these two rhythmic styles, balanced with great control and expertise.

Overall, this a very well produced EDM track in the DnB/Glitch house genre by a writer/producer who has become a master of his craft. It manages to perfectly balance the opposing styles involved so that it is both danceable yet sonically inventive and different to most EDM. With his popularity growing exponentially with each new release, Something Else might be the track that gets everybody talking about Cap’n Richie and deservedly so.

 

VERDICT: 8.5 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:

 

ALBUM REVIEW: Grooveatropolis by Asmodelle

Grooveatropolishttp://asmodelle.com.au/

Estelle Asmodelle is an electronica artist and performer hailing from New South Wales, Australia. Formerly a dancer, she became involved in electronic music whilst living in Japan in the early 90’s. She has now released seven CDs of music and has composed for film soundtracks, art installations and dance parties. Her music spans several sub genres including trance, house, chillout/ambient and even experimental electronica. She was the winner of Best Instrumental Music Video in 2012, awarded by the Australian Independent Music Video Awards.

This album, Grooveatropolis, consists of ten tracks which range in their style and length, averaging out around the six minute mark. The album opener If You Knew is a near seven minute trance track, built around a pounding four to the floor kick and catchy bassline. Over this, Asmodelle weaves synth lines in and out of the track, some which double the bassline and some for rhythmic effect. It’s a fine start and at a perfect tempo for dancing.

Second track Is This Just A Dream is an uptempo house number with funky, syncopated percussion and spoken word vocals from Asmodelle, which act as a good hook. Over this is a simple, jazzy chord progression underpinned by a one note bassline and pulsing synth melodies/rhythms. Come With Me, track three, is slightly more aggressive and darker in sound with a moody rising bassline and eerie synth lines, also incorporating a spoken word hook.

Fourth track Groove Al Dente is somewhere between trance and house, with a high synth melody working in tandem with the bassline. It features several different sections, with a drop section around the minute mark. It adds a catchy EDM lead synth riff around the second minute, which drops out to then later returns for the last two minutes of the track, along with various atmospheric melodies that add to the texture.

All Tranced Up is, as the title suggests, another trance track. It has a faster tempo than the rest, around 140-150BPM, which gives it a sense of urgency and intensity. I loved the lead synth riff which is more musical and melodic than most EDM you hear. It’s also the longest track on the album at over eight minutes. Your Storybook World is also trance, with some complex layering of synths and a nice piano melody that enters briefly. A more mellow track than the last.

Track seven, I’m Fractured, also has a laid back feel, featuring some spacey ambient style synths melding with more traditional trance melodies. Eighth track Your Suspected returns to the fast tempo of All Tranced Up, though this one is somewhere between trance and house, becoming more house as the tracks goes on. I liked the subtle vocoder vocals used very sparsely.

Taking Chances is darker sounding, with a complicated rhythm and moody bassline as well as some excellent synth lines that brought to mind harder-edged electronica like The Prodigy. The amusingly titled Prance Like A Superstar closes the album and its a fine way to finish. The texture builds gradually throughout and would sound great towards the end of the evening in a nightclub.

Overall, this is a very good album of electronica music that showcases Asmodelle’s talent for writing and producing excellent trance and house tracks that are perfect for the dancefloor. Although they are all instrumentals, Asmodelle creates variety through tempo, texture and style from track to track making it good just for listening as well as ideal club tracks. I’d expect her rise to major success to continue with this release.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.2 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