Oxaï Roura’s experimental track “Afro-Himalayan 01: GanEshou” is one of the more unusual tracks I’ve heard. It’s kind of a mix between tribal spoken word (with multiple voices layered,) and synth. It’s very minimalist. Oxaï lists filmmaker David Lynch as one of his influences, and this music would not seem out of place in a Lynch-like movie. I imagine these songs would also work well in tandem with an artistic dance performance art of some kind. Wisely, the artist keeps these songs to a relatively short length so that they hold the listener’s attention for the duration.
Chicago based artist “Kid-Ro” has a track out titled “New Keisha” (produced by Niko the Great.) He describes his sound as “new age hip hop with an international feel.” Kid-Ro comes across as a capable and solid rapper. Throughout the song he maintains an intuitive pacing. His delivery is articulate, with well timed vocals accentuated by some echo type effects, yet none of it is obscured by over processing. What makes the song memorable for me though is the terrifically eerie synth backing, which is reminiscent of something in between a 70′s Italian horror movie soundtrack and 80′s video game music. The background track is good enough to stand on its own as an instrumental. It’s good to see hip hop getting more creative and branching off into new sub-genres. Kid-Ro’s music is helping to contribute to that welcome trend.
“Comes a Moment” is a brand new release from Jonathan Cavier’s new album, “Premier.” Both the video and the song itself are highly impressive. Cavier’s music reflect a contemporary sound, influenced by pop and rock of the 80s and 90s. Despite Jonathan’s 80′s influences, “Comes a Moment” doesn’t come off as retro or “gimmicky.” This is a polished and well put together track from a seasoned professional. The theme of the song seems to be how time flies, relayed through a story of two parents’ amazement at how fast their daughter has grown up. It deals with both the struggles of change and the promise of the future.
One New Spirit’s song, “Follow Peace” brings something new to the table in that it’s part of a growing yet not often talked about genre of “indie” new age music. As more people seek relief from the ever increasing toll of modern life takes on the psyche, there is a yearning for the transcendent, for meditation and most of all…for inner tranquility. “Follow Peace” is there to fill the void. The talented Krista Gardner’s naturalistic vocals seem to be tailor made for this style of music. Producer Marko Fazio wisely allows Krista’s singing to take center stage and doesn’t muddy up her performance by tinkering with a lot of unnecessary effects and processing. True to its title, “Follow Peace” is a very calming song, which invites contemplative meditation and reflective solitude. The same thing goes for the lyric video (see below.) While the aesthetic is minimalist (lyrics set to a vaporwave styled ocean backdrop) it’s perfect for meditation, and anything more would probably distract from reaching any higher level consciousness.
There is clearly a high level of talent associated with this production at all levels. I expect Krista and the rest of her team will continue to dream up more of these great electro new age songs in the future.
I’m always pretty stoked when I get the chance to review a metal band. In terms of contemporary music, metal sometimes seems like one of the only authentic genres. The artists tend to be less concerned with hype and superficiality and more passionate about music.
“Judgemetal” is a four piece metal band, based out of Essex, UK. Their new single, “Belong,” was just released on Hydrus Records. It’s a high quality, high energy track that doesn’t disappoint. It captures the ambiance of metal perfectly and the technical aspects of the song are all very solid. Wisely the band keeps with the traditional sound and doesn’t ruin the recording with a lot of obnoxious vocal effects (unlike so many newer artists.) What really impresses me though is the video for the song. It actually has the somewhat vintage aesthetic of a late 80′s-early 90s music video(whether intentional or not) and would not be out of place on an old episode of Headbanger’s Ball. “Belong” is a respectable release from an up and coming metal band. Expect to hear more from them in the future.
Hip hop artist “Absoloot” has delivered a new track titled “The Truth.” It’s very well produced and would be worth listening to even for the groovy musical arrangements alone. Absoloot’s pacing and tone flows well throughout. Despite the provocative title and cover, Absoloot’s political message comes across as rather nuanced, as he levels his constructive criticisms at multiple sides and doesn’t fall into the trap of cliched predictability. Regardless of your views on the state of current affairs in these tumultuous times, this is a great quality song, and the political message is conveyed in a manner that won’t rub you the wrong way if you don’t agree with parts of it. Expect this guy to continue to put out good material in the days ahead.
Gilbert Engle continues to display his music versatility and technical proficiency, the latest example to come across my desk being his 2016 “Piano Sonatas” release. These tunes maintain a feverish pace throughout and convey a lively, bright and upbeat mood. One can envision a scenario where crowds of people they are moving briskly through the sidewalks of a bustling metropolis, set to this music. “Piano Sonata 8,” one of the best tracks on the album, is an excellent example of this. All of the songs are simply numbered this way rather than given esoteric abstract titles. It gives a certain businesslike and perhaps modernist quality to the overall aesthetic. Engle delivers pure substance and never seems to rely on catchy titles or sloganeering in his work. His focus is entirely on creating the best piece of music possible. This is extremely refreshing when one considers that a good portion of contemporary music is almost entirely based around the marketing and image, with little attention paid to actual songwriting or even the music itself.
Engle’s piano handiwork is meticulously performed with an articulated precision. My favorite track is “Piano Sonata 4″ I listened to several times in a row. It gave off the vibe of a hypnotic roller coaster ride with it’s teeter-totter of highs and lows and ups and downs. Even though the piano is the only instrument being used, this is by no means a somber or light album. The fast forward pacing gives these songs all the heightened energy of a downtown afternoon. It’s a terrific collection of tunes which are yet another representation of both the prolific level of output and quality that Gilbert somehow manages to maintain.
Charles Luck and Tino Red have cranked out another track. This one’s titled “Limitless: Lost in Space” and is produced by DansonnBeats. It has more of an epic feel to it, with an almost opera like, dramatic musical backing. The song takes a somewhat urgent pacing, which correlates with the tone and subject matter..(saving the world, etc.) Tino’s vocal skills come through like always as he demonstrates his usual combined rapping/singing adeptness. He also shows an uncanny ability to deliver material with class and in a unifying, elevating way. As a bonus, there’s even a slick reference to Paul McCartney and the Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby” about a third of the way through.
Humbly named hip hop artist TimbDagod has a new single out titled “Bars No Lyrics.” One thing that’s very apparent in this jam is his technical skill when delivering. His timing is tighter than a metronome. He’s able to maintain the consistency for long periods as well, not just short bursts of rhymes. His rapping style has kind of a rhythmic, hypnotic quality to it. It doesn’t express a lot of attitude or exaggerated emotions. “Bars No Lyrics” is a worthy effort, and TimbDagod certainly knows his craft.
Los Angeles based artist Monsta Ma$h has recently released a couple new tracks. His style is a unique blend of pop punk and hip hop. The song “Stay on Edge” for example is reminiscent of carefree late 90′s pop / hip hop songs (though he also has a remix of this jam available which utilizes an awesome 80′s synthwave backing.) His music isn’t quite heavy enough to be classified as “rapcore,” but also not light enough or cheesy enough to to fit in with mainstream pop groups like Smashmouth. He falls somewhere in between and strikes a good balance. One thing that’s clear from his jams is that Monsta knows how to have a good time. He’s often hamming it up and laughing and loves to sing about partying. His delivery is confident, articulate and his approach is laid back without coming across as lazy. The production quality is excellent, and Monsta’s latest tracks along with his colorful persona are highly marketable.