*casually slides into the blog almost 3 weeks late* Hello friends! I am back with more bangers now that my brain is (mostly) functional again. Had the lineup ready before I left for New York but also I knew there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to do all this writing at that point, so here we are. Closer to the end of the month than the start of it. Yaaaay!
Oh!! An update! I reactivated my Gold subscription, so now I can play these bleeps and bloops when I’m streaming with no fear of the copyright gods. Awwww yiss.
Again, disclaimers that (1) I am not an expert, (2) all opinions are my own, and (3) I don’t get anything for doing this other than keeping track of my favorites. A new disclaimer that I have some honorable mentions in this post. Even if they’re not in my top picks, for all I know they could end up in yours—so listen to them anyway! The cool thing about, honestly, music in general is that there is something for everyone and every situation.
Anyway, without further ado…
Kat’s February Picks!
One wonders if he’ll release “Almost 5am” later on…
This is a two-track single where the tracks are tied together in a way that kind of reminds me of Animal Crossing. Which may or may not be largely due to the naming scheme. Who can say?! Anyway. The first, “Almost 3am,” is in a higher tempo (yes, I’m reviewing yet another dnb track) that establishes the melody line that weaves its way through both tracks. “Almost 4am” picks up, in a sense, where the end of “Almost 3am” leaves off, lowers the tempo, and emboldens the bass line (which is certainly present in “3am” as well, but it takes on a life of its own in “4am”). I decided to do both of these in one entry because they’re so nicely tied together; the way different musical elements show up in each track—very differently and true to their respective styles, yet very clearly based on the same theme—is nothing short of impressive. As such, it’s proven impossible for me to pick a favorite of the two.
A truly powerful pair!
2. Rameses B feat. Laura Brehm, “Don’t Need You” (Instinct, 2/8)
What a dream of a collaboration. Been a fan of both for years, and they work so well together. The song starts with Laura singing (she has a FANTASTIC voice btw) over some soft piano. The instrumentation starts to pick up, subtly but almost dramatically, at around the point where she begins to self-harmonize. (She uses self-harmonization often, I’ve noticed, and it’s pretty cool.) The buildup to the chorus, and then the chorus itself, are so well put together. As a whole, the song is a wonderful throwback to roughly the mid-2010s—which is full of songs that I frequently play on repeat. “Don’t Need You” would be right at home on some of those playlists.
Even the image is ominous
3. F.O.O.L & Extra Terra, “Agonize” (Uncaged, 2/10)
Dark and dramatic, “Agonize” goes hard from the first few beats. Overall it’s very electro, but also there is an ominous choir at various points in the track. Very final boss stage vibes. The intro builds so much tension, leading into a pretty sweet drop. The middle third or so of the song adds some very intense synth guitar that despite the intensity, is still pretty catchy. The second drop, within the final minute of the song, plays with the bass a bit and that sounds cool, too. All in all, pretty on par for a F.O.O.L track—a good thing. I’ll have to find time to hear more from Extra Terra as well.
All four artists left their mark on this song, which is really cool.
4. CloudNone, Direct, & Mr Fijiwiji feat. Chxse, “Stained Glass” (Instinct, 2/15)
Coming into this track, I was super excited to hear Mr Fijiwiji on Monstercat again after around 2 years. I was also looking forward to this collaboration just in general. But on my first listen, I did not get nearly as much out of the song as I was hoping. So I decided to listen more closely a couple weeks later. I’m glad that I did! Coming back to it, I’ve realized that I can distinctly hear the contributions from each artist, while the track itself works so well. Like a collab should be! CloudNone and Direct work quite well together, providing ambient yet melodic music. This is like that, but with the additions of Fij’s fun and funky bass line, along with Chxse, who ties it all together by providing lyrics. (Also noticeable throughout the song is the sound-looping treatment given to the vocals at different points. For an even more apparent example of this work from CloudNone, see “None Trick Pony,” released 2018.) Definitely give this one a real close listen with headphones. There is so much more to this song than meets the eye (ear?). I certainly found it rewarding as I’m familiar with three out of the four artists, but even if you’re not, there’s a great deal to find if you pay enough attention.
5. MUZZ feat. PAV4N & Miss Trouble, “The Warehouse” [Justin Hawkes remix] (Uncaged, 2/17)
One of a series of remixes for an upcoming remix album, this one’s my favorite of these remixes so far. How many more times am I going to say remix? Remix. (Full disclosure, might be biased as “The Warehouse” is probably my favorite track on The Promised Land, released 2020.) But I like that it’s true to the original but also, in a sense, enhances it. For instance, remixer Justin Hawkes kinda softens the edges of the Miss Trouble verses a bit, letting them build to the following verses (provided by PAV4N) and drops, which go even harder than in the original (boy, do I love the distortion Hawkes added to “One percent a thing of lore” like holy crap). Little things like that are very cool, making an already fantastic song become still more fantastic, and in different ways. A note that the remix is shorter, I think because the ending isn’t also a transition to “Somewhere Else,” which follows “The Warehouse” on TPL.
Bilingual drum and bass?! Sign me up!
6. Feint & R7CKY feat. Skyelle, “Lost & Found” (Uncaged, 2/21)
Another power collab! The cool thing to note here is that there are two versions of this track: the English one, which I’m reviewing here, and the original Chinese version (romanized as “Searching”), featuring Liu Meilin on vocals. Both versions were released on the same day as a super-neat international collaboration. As for the song itself, well, it’s really hard for Feint to make a track I don’t like. And Skyelle has an incredibly powerful voice, which really fits the empowering message of the song (“Who’s the one that wins the game?”). (I do also like the Chinese version!) Big fan of the buildup—done in half-time—to the second drop. Oh, and! I love the smattering of violin here and there. Not the first time I’ve heard it in a Feint track, but I like hearing it.
I wasn’t even alive in the ‘80s and this still takes me back.
7. Pegboard Nerds & Robin Vane, “Multiverse” (Instinct, 2/25)
This one is so delightfully ‘80s electropop, very groovy. The vocal style and lyrics themselves really fit the theme of the song, too. I find myself dancing in my seat while I’m trying to write! Ahem. Anyway. This song is somewhat different from other Nerds stuff, but still similar enough that it works really well, and I can see a bit of how and why this direction was taken. Cannot help but picture this as the backdrop to a cartoon about space. Cool Guy in Space. Yeeeah.
I too would like to join a rainbow rave parade
8. Chime, “Rainbow Rave Parade” (Uncaged, 2/28)
Big energy in this one! Chime has stated that the song is a shoutout to both his own musical history and the diversity of other producers he has worked with. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert, but I can tell that there are multiple influences at work here—even if I can’t tell just what all of them are. And they’re tied together quite well, making for a very fun track. From just the first few seconds after percussion kicks in, I’m hooked. Then there are scratch vocals, which I cannot say I was expecting... but I can say that I heckin love it. Some fun melodic stuff to look for, too, especially in the latter half of the song.
May or may not have this in other posts. Basically when there’s something to a song that I like, but that I don’t get as much out of a song as I wish I did, or as others might. This can also include incredibly silly things on my part like “I play a different version of this song on Beat Saber and my brain can’t handle more than one tempo,” as you’ll see below.
Conro, “feeling” (Instinct, 2/2)
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the official release. However, I follow Conro on Facebook and he’s been releasing snippets of acoustic versions of his recent tracks. And I absolutely love the acoustic snippet for this one.
Maestro Chives & Martin Graff, “The Moment” (Silk, 2/18)
I really, really love the concept of this piece: Chives started in electronic music by playing violin—he has a great deal of classical experience, which I can hear in this track—alongside DJs, and now he’s doing it for original releases. Super cool and also kinda the dream. But personally, I cannot find anything to really concentrate on beyond the violin—that’s on me, but this was also part of my original disclaimer. The violin, however, is great, and I hope to hear Chives on more stuff on this label.
MUZZ feat. Celldweller, “New Age” [Bossfight remix] (Uncaged, 2/23)
So, I do really like this remix. A lot, actually. I love the ways Bossfight played with the song; there’s a lot of really neat stuff in here. However, it’s downtempo from the original. Why is this a problem, you ask? Weeeellll I’ve been playing the original “New Age” in Beat Saber and it is so, so disorienting to hear it in another tempo! So, like… I like it. But it hurts my brain.
All righty then~ I might actually have time to make it so that my next post is on time. In theory. See you in like, a week!