The new year is well and truly under way as life returns to its new normal. With the festivities out of the way, thoughts turn to the future and for bands, their plans for 2018 kick in to action. One aspect of that is releasing new music, and getting people to hear it. That’s where we come in to play, which is a great cue for the first song.
Traveler is the musical project of Cameron Fitzpatrick, an American musician, composer and producer from North Carolina. His music can veer from the dark to the light, but on track LUX 1 he very much plays with shades of grey. The track flows along, a minimal and repetitive melody making the piece feel like the soundtrack to a half-sleeping dream, with influences from Philip Glass and synthwave tropes giving the track subtle retro inflections. He says it’s the first in a three-part series about being washed in light and sound, and is certainly a promising opening to the song cycle.
State of Mind is Kim Anker’s debut single and uses a very similar musical palate to the previous track, again with a similarly repetitive but effective melody at its core. It’s got hints of trance, 80’s Italo and classical music at times, its cadences delivering a feeling of warmth if not a sense of mild euphoria. With a faster BPM it would be a floor filler at a trance party, but the chilled way the track unwinds allows it to breathe and take hold on your heart and soul.
Klangplanet is becoming a regular visitor to these pages, as the German producer’s blend of deep house rhythms and chilled out beats continues to serve up delights like Cruising. Not one to rest on his laurels, he mixes things up a bit here, with a TSOP style brass section and some smooth and soulful vocal loops adding a very sensual air to the proceedings. It’s air of quiet hedonism is actually intoxicating at times!
French producer Khamsin is known to many as part of the Slow Hours collective, but there’s plenty of evidence that he knows how to create a hit in his own right and that’s something that continues with new track Second Guess . Guest vocals from Anuka add layers of emotion and at times drama to the song, but it’s the seamless blending of rock, dance and retro synth sounds that makes this such a banger. This is a track that’ll get your rock music buddies dancing, making devil signs all the way!
Philadelphia native and music producer 5 And & Dime shows on Flying High (feat. Yashar Gasanov) that he knows how to mix up seemingly disparate genres to great effect. You can hear elements of big room in the mix, but here we’re also presented with distorted and pitch-shifted vocals, looping to create an at times unsettling effect, as well as functioning almost as another instrument on the track. But still you can hear Scandinavian melancholy creeping into the track, accentuating that kind of leftfield approach to pop that manages to get the brain working as the track flows over and around you.
Eric Sharp’s tag line for Someplace I Can Call My Own ft Zhao is ‘Crawl inside this beat and snuggle’ – and that’s a fair summation of the track. It manages to be large and expansive, but with Zhao’s vocals ground the piece at a personal and almost intimate level. Soothing and smooth, this is the end of the night track at the perfect club night. You don’t listen to this track, you live in it.
Staying in America we move on to Joker by Nadoyel. It’s a deliriously deceptive track, with a minimal violin opening giving way to piano and a looping pulsating electronica arrangement that delights and unsettles in equal measure. There’s a Victorian gothic intensity to Joker as if Mary Shelley had spent time working in a music studio one night rather than writing as in a fevered dream. For all it’s addictive and hypnotic qualities, it’s not the most accessible sound – and that just adds to its charm.
Norway’s Gundelach also plays with convention on Duck Hunting. It’s pop but rock, as it channels 80’s Springsteen and Scandinavian pop perfection into three and a half minutes of pure pleasure – lyrics that tell a story and an arrangement that tugs at your heartstrings and musical memories. The soaring, almost falsetto vocals give the track a bittersweet edge, making Duck Hunting feel less a love song, more a ‘Oh this isn’t love’ song. Definitely a track to put on a mixtape for that person you want to be special.
Robokid knows how to assemble offbeat pop if Worth It is anything to go by. The best pop lyrics and repetitive with a simple structure and a heartfelt yet simple message. Robokid scores a direct hit with that, as he sings openly of feelings and their consequences. There’s an at times bleak aspect to the lyrics but that’s softened by the warm and hook-filled arrangement. If only all sadness could be so beautiful.
Finishing us off this weekend is a very different beast indeed in the form of who cares! by Sundial. The Boston duo capture carefree moments in a three-minute electropop stormer. Its light and airy arrangement and sing-song backing vocal loop all work to give Dorothy’s cheeky and fun-filled vocal performance a deceiving air of innocence. Bubblegum pop with an edge, who cares! is like one of those lipsticks with a hidden blade – beautiful until deadly.