Wednesday, March 25, 2015
There is something exceptionally special about the debut LP from Vancouver's Future Pop duo, Ultravillain. The overall production of the album has a dark and edgy quality that's created from the breathiness of Chris' vocal delivery against the primal breakdown of the beats and bass line created by Tobias. Each track is crafted in such a manner that everything that Chris does, vocally, is fully supported and never trampled on. I've said it in other reviews of their previous works that these two gentlemen know how to create music that is going to stimulate every part of you. They know exactly what buttons to push and how to bend those rules to the point of breaking without ever doing too much. It's a very fine line they walk because male driven electronic music generally doesn't have as large of a following as say a female fronted group would but these guys know exactly how to pull it off.
I think the work that an electro rock or synth driven producer puts into the creation of a song tends to be much more intensive than just laying down a guitar or a piano because the melody has to be crafted from scratch with electronics. Each part of the track has to be looped and created utilizing an exceptionally creative hand that has a depth of understanding in how all of the pieces are going to come together as a melody. It's building a machine. It's making sure that each and every piece adds up to the whole as a unified sum total of the parts. Tobias has a deft hand at making sure that there isn't anything out of place and that it all works. Without the creation of the rhythm and structure of the track, the song doesn't work and there isn't anything for Chris' vocals to ride on. And ride they do. They are fluid and they are precise. Each and every syllable is given the utmost care as he puts them out into the universe for consumption. Without harping on the idea that there is an inherent overall sex appeal to this album, the guys have again created something that's primal and visceral that just settles into you that feels so good. I think a lot of it has to do with the slow, methodical, purpose driven beats that never seem rushed or overdone.
So let's talk about the album. Mostly importantly, it's not left repeat for about a week. If I'm in my car, it's playing. I've dug into these tracks and I honestly say, I N V U is the coolest electro album I've listened to in a very long time. First and foremost, the tracks are gigantic. With an average running time of about 4.07 minutes, these 13 tracks are pretty beefy. You are absolutely getting every ounce of their talent and desire to make the best possible music they can. Each song fits so perfectly with the entire album that you don't even realize you're over halfway through the album by the time you reach, "Human". I can't decide which song is my favorite because they are all so good. Whether it's what's being said as a social statement in, "Believer" or the super sexy lyrical delivery from "Garden"; each song could easily stand on it's own as a single and there aren't any that I want to skip over when it comes to them in the line up. Leading off with "Talk About" was a fantastic choice because it sets the tone of the album. You quickly get an idea of what's to come and the bar is set pretty high and I don't feel as if they ever let you down. "Get Invisible" is this crazy atmospheric track that just fills you up when you close your eyes and let the song just kind of wash over you. "666" has this funky retro vibe to it but the story it tells is this cautionary tale of not getting involved when you know you want to but it's the worst idea ever because you know how bad it's going to turn out in the end. If something a little more aggressive is your speed, "All We Get" fills that nicely. It's on the primal end of the spectrum with a more raw and edgy beat.
If you can't tell by now, I am an unapologetic fan of this group and I want to see them do amazing things. I want huge collaborations. I want their music to be featured in television shows and on soundtracks. I want a lot for them because more than anything they create amazing music and they are genuinely nice guys. I don't think this album will go too far from my heavy rotation playlist. I really hope they are able to get what they need from the public from this album because it's a solid album and I am seriously in awe of the talent that went into making it.
UltraVillain on the Web
Friday, March 6, 2015
This song. This song. This song. This is far too funky for it's own good. Johnny has summoned all the power of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Morris Day and the Time. This song has so much going for it that it is simply too hard to put into words how crazy good it is. It's a massive song that has so much personality and it just makes you feel good. I want to get out on a dance floor and move through the whole thing and then do it again. From the funky bass line to the punctuation of his syllables, this song is built to get you up and active.
Watching Johnny grow and mature as an artist has been an ultimate joy. Hearing him metamorphosis into the artist he has become has been like a brilliant trip through the late 60s through the mid 80s and it's so clear to hear how music, all music, influences him and how he draws so much inspiration from so many different artists. His voice is so silky that it just floats above the track and never gets overpowered or bullied. The production of this song is so "New Power Generation" and makes me want to hear him singing with Prince and Apollonia or Wendy and Lisa.
I can't wait to see where he goes from here because he can slide any genre on and make it work with so much ease. It's almost as if he never even has to try because it all sounds so freaking effortless. It doesn't matter if it's a ballad like, "One More Minute" or something more stripped like, "So Good."; Johnny takes the tracks and makes each one of them express exactly what it is you need to feel at that exact moment in time.
Sweden is a magical place. I've talked about it for years as they have a seemingly endless supply of amazing pop stars in the wings. I don't know if it's the water or the climate but something continues producing these brilliant singers and performers. In this years Melodifestivalen, which is Sweden's annual competition to determine who goes on to represent the country in Eurovision, Midnight Boy's entry titled, "Don't Say No" unfortunately failed to make it through his semi-final but the song rocketed to the top of the iTunes chart showing the fans really loved what he did.
"Don't Say No" is one part magic, one part excess, and an all out amazing representation of what an homage to the 80's club scene is all about. At first listen, there's a bit of Dead or Alive but that's not now, nor ever has been a bad thing and I think there's definitely some Pete Burns influence to not only his aesthetic but this song as well. There's absolutely nothing wrong with paying tribute to a specific artist of a time period and I think that as long as you're honest to the source material, then it stays an homage and doesn't filter over into the realm of parody. This song has the glitz, the glamour, and the cheekiness level is over-the-top to make sure that it's a proper representation of all things 1980s.
Midnight Boy has an impressive back catalog of tracks as well that prove that he's not simply a flash in the pan. I feel that his appeal has the ability to move beyond the boundaries of the Retro Future genre because the performance is solid and the production is solid. The song is built exceptionally well. It's catchy and gets into you before you know what's hit you. It's definitely a song that you want to hear in a club being pushed through a massive sound system and I think to hear him perform it live would certainly be a pleasure. I am going to stick close to him as I think he's going to be a fan favorite across the genre.
One of the coolest songs Delta Rae has released is "Run". It's got a wild abandon to it that makes you just grab Britney's hand and try to keep up as she's leading you on a twisting path through the song. Her voice is clear and crisp and purposeful and to add the strings to the song in this manner give it so much more depth than the original recording. You can hear every breath she takes along side the quartet and it's simply stunning. With the live recording in the video, each part of the song is highlighted and brought gorgeously to life as they work their magic. It's simple and elegant and makes me love this song even more.