Para One – Passion album review

Passion is the French producer Jean-Baptiste de Laubier’s 14th release. He has been long at work on many things, first becoming famous for his association with the French rap group TTC, and over time becoming a sort of electronic audio-visual Jacque-of-all-trades. He has produced and directed short films, and produced rap and electronic music. This album is all over the place. It ranges from poppy to beautiful and artistic to unlistenable and back again. Where to start on something like that? The beginning.

The opening track sets the scene. It is “Ice Cold,” almost white (like ice) noise, it is numbing, and purposefully so, I imagine, because the second track is meant to awaken the listener.

Wake Me Up: these electronic albums often tell or attempt to tell a story, and this one is no different. The second track is the beginning, perhaps, of a day. There is something fun about the somewhat musically (though not tonally) incoherent soundstream emanating from Para One’s invisible turntables. I say it is musically incoherent because all kinds of sounds come from all kinds of places, at the wrap-up, it changes to discernibly drum-driven, to lead into the third track, “Every Little Thing,” which blends fantastically with “wake me up.” I had to double-check to see if the track had changed. It’s a love song! It is featuring two vocalists, Irfane and Teki Latex, who sound fantastic. The tempo changes kept me guessing, but the chorus kept me grounded. It was, overall, an awesome song. Expect to hear this one.

A cool and blurrily straightforward name for a track: “Vibrations followed by poisoned apples.” This is a fun interlude. We wouldn’t want you to get too comfortable with para one’s sound, so let’s hearken back a couple of tracks to that noise. Oh wait, just kidding it’s a pretty cool song. It also has a healthy dose sound variance, where one second we might be spurred to cheer for more cowbell, because we are drowning in stadium-sound synth, but then it drops off and oh yes, the cowbell. Para one promised poisoned apples, which apparently sound like rain, some jazzy low-key hip hop, more rain, and then it gets a little crazy.

Jaw makes a soulful appearance on the fifth track, which is titled “When The Night” I kept waiting for the bass drop. The song feels like one huge buildup, intermittent samples, house-inspired background, with no bass drop, just a melting-record end.

Sigmund: starts with a sample that might as well say “hey, this song is going to be as surreal as the cover art on our album” (see below), and it is. It might have been made for a robot dance-off. If we could get Bowie wearing a suit of chrome, he would be the judge.

“Love Ave” is great. Quick metronome-y drum line, synth, classic rap samples (cruise down the ave, know I’m lookin’ good). What more do you want?

“You” on the other hand, I could do without. It is shopping music (think Gap in San Francisco) on mushrooms. Kind of fun, but nothing that makes it stand out, other than the garbled vocals.

This album is a forward-thinking shoutout to the beginnings of hip-hop that inspired the artist, and retains a tremulous connection to those roots while straddling the line between coherent musicality and completely unrestrained compulsive music-making.


Com Truise – In Decay album review

Word of the Day: Spoonerism. The definition? What Com Truise is to Tom Cruise, verbally.

Before I started listening to this brand spankin’ new album from Com Truise, I looked at the ever-instrumental itunes genius recommendations, and I thought, oh, I like most of those people. Among them: Justice, Digitalism, Holy Ghost!, Chromatics, YACHT, blah blah, music that you probably like too, because it’s good.

All of his summer tour dates are in Europe, with the exception of his stop in Chicago, where he will be playing North Coast Festival. If you’ve been to Europe recently, and you went to a festival or a dimly lit underground club/dance floor with a cover, then that might give you an inkling of what this music is about before actually clicking that play button. And if you haven’t done that rather obscure activity (this is more likely) then the music will give you an idea of what the European dimly lit underground dance floor is all about…it works both ways.

My mom or yours might say, “that just sounds like noise to me.”

Seth Haley hails from the electronic music hotbed of upstate New York, where he has been, as he says on his website, “De-thawing in the Jersey sunshine, I compute mid-fi synth-wave, slower-motion funk.” Is that not the most unnecessarily specific-sounding description of one’s own creation that ever happened? Well, to put it simply, no, it’s not. It is not only not overly specific, but it’s right on.

Side note: he is the second person I have ever heard (or read) use the phrase “de-thaw.”

As his description might indicate, Haley knows exactly what he is doing, or making. Only seconds after thinking how the aptly named opening track, “Open” is perfect videogame music, he there came a sample straight out of a video game. This music is the golden age of video game music, where you still got to pick in the settings page whether you wanted mono sound or stereo. Megaman would jam. And I, like Megaman, jammed.

Com Truise brings disparate parts of the sound spectrum and jams them (like Megaman and I) together to make something where the synth waves and the percussion is spotty but there when it needs to be. Each segment of his production feels like a reaction to the last, and the amalgam is so harmoniously chaotic that those actions and reactions kind of make sense.

“Alfa Beach” could have come from an 80s movie, with that electronic drum kit sound and the funky Jim Belushi-on-a-mission high synth high-synthing away, but then it breaks down into something jazzier, with a splashy cymbal. Then, like a reaction to the breakdown, Belushi is running again.

’84 Dreamin’: Aquarium music. Or an intense yoga class. Plus eighties.

Yxes: It’s “sexy” backwards. It confused me for a while, I kept trying to pronounce it in French, like Yves. The sample that goes SEXYYYY in the song pretty much gave it away.

Haley is an artist for a very specific ilk, and if you are within than ilk, you will appreciate this music immensely. On the other hand, this is not pop. Com Truise is not a people pleaser, at least not in this day and age. It is playful but serious in a way that walks the line of nostalgic and envelope-pushing. Keep on de-thawing, Truise. I have some Megaman to play.


The Young Professionals – 9AM to 5PM – 5PM to Whenever album review

First, some (potentially) interesting points about this band and album:

It was their first.

It released in Israel in 2011.

It was then released internationally on June 18 through Polydor records.

There are two Young Professionals.

The Young Professionals are from Israel.

All of the songs on this album are either club-banger anthems with suave young professional style- leather loafers with a suit I’m thinking-like the first two tracks, or songs built on emotion like some of the later tracks, like “With Me” or “Deserve.”

The club songs are, for the most part, pretty awesome. There is definitely, or there should be, a sweaty dancefloor somewhere with a whole bunch of people under a strobe light not drinking enough water, grooving to these songs. “20 Seconds,” the second track, is as its name might suggest, pretty urgent. The song moves quickly and doesn’t stop much except for a breakdown toward the end of the song.

Although one of the coolest names for a track I have ever heard, “Fuck Off Berlin” is not as good as it could be. It is definitely made for the club, but it borders on the too-emotional: I imagine a 7 year old saying the hardest-hitting (emotionally) line of the chorus “you don’t even make me dream!” I am on the outside of the name’s joke, which I am pretty sad about…maybe it’s a club rivalry that I should know about? Regardless, I’m intrigued.

The fourth track is the track with the second coolest name ever. “Gucci Gun.” I want one. The lyrics aren’t perfect: the grasp on rhyme is strangely fuzzy, but the redemption factor of the chorus more than makes up for it because it is just that catchy. The scale is still tottering though, it mentions Facebook, which I don’t love, but the rhyme of “black dress” and how the dress is “easy on the access” is pretty damn cool. The breakdown tips the scale toward awesome, it’s dubby and delicious. When I get my Gucci Gun, I’m bringing it to the club.

The final track (we fast-forwarded) is “Video Games.” This is the cover of the blog-squashed lana del rey song It features an intermittent clap and they picked it up a little bit and made it quick and poppy. Everyone will hear this song. Some will love it.

A friend of mine heard the song “Wake Up” and his comment was, “That is what a robot wakes up to.” He’s right.

Those too-emotional tracks I was talking about are “With Me” and “Deserve.” The former features a Postal Service-esque vocal quality, almost like if James Blake was really into 80s dance music and not as cool. Some sonic elements fall out at the end of the track, such as the dial-up internet tone that bounces through the background. It’s nice to have variety, I suppose. “Deserve” is too whiny. Plain and simple.

About half of this album is great, but there are some obvious detractors. For a first release, it’s definitely solid, and I expect to be sweating to at least a couple of these tracks in the near future. Good Luck to the Young Professionals, and hey, you guys have some awesome track names.


The Toxic Avenger – Angst LP album review

“It’s provocative, it gets the people going!” was the quote that popped into my mind after hearing The Toxic Avenger’s newest music—it’s an LP—and that is because the album is provocative, among other things.

While it may seem strange to start an album review on a music blog with a quote from a completely unrelated song, filed under a completely different genre, by two artists rather than one, that is actually a quote that has been reappropriated for a song, from a movie, it seemed like the most fitting thing to do while reflecting upon the LP’s story. I say “LP’s story,” because if there are a couple of things that this album has, they are a story and a consistently freaking killer synth line. I will get to the second one after a few words about the first.

The first track, “Nu 1553” begins and is punctuated with samples of a man’s voice and airport announcements: a plane is taking off, and either the artist or the listener has apparently boarded, strapped him or herself in, and oh, the anticipation! The beginning of the song is slow and melodic, almost joyful, unabashedly anticipatory, upon reflection. Once the slap comes in, there may be some headbanging.

Listening to the track for the first time—without the sample for context—might have inspired the thought, “Oh, this would be good driving music,” or perhaps the less common, “I feel like I’m sitting on a plane right now.” However, the takeoff is sudden: double-time sets in for the drumline, everything becomes glitchy in a hurry and samples run rampant as the tempo changes insist on scratching up your ears’ equilibrium, and as if it was destiny, ANGST sets in and with it, its namesake: the second track.

The title track comes once the journey has set in—The Toxic Avenger apparently wanted to acclimate us to aero-musical travel before dropping the full power of his angsty LP upon us. He succeeded; “Angst” is comprised of four parts that run throbbing synthy threads through the LP, starting slow in “: One” and speeding up after the breakdown at 2:30 that runs for almost a minute (anticipation? angst?) and the bass drop that would inexplicably pull most listeners arms up at 3:30. This album does not let up on the hard electro, sick with samples (in a good way), that the quite toxic Simon Delacroix has made his name off of. Highlights of the album are its insistence on continuity and bumping bass, as well as the limitless remix potential of the countdown at 2:07 on the third track, “3/2/1.”

If you are feeling restless and in need of a virtual journey with catchy samples and catchier pumping synth, so was the Toxic Avenger, and the Angst LP is exactly what you need.