Fort Romeau- Insides

In so many genres of music, visual art, film, and fashion we can in this day and age observe a rising trend of looking to yesteryear and beyond for inspiration. In many parts of art and creativity, the whole “full circle” idea appears to be real. It is particularly prevalent in electronic music, especially with the current “house revival” we are experiencing, which in my opinion is fast reaching its peak, with little left to really return to using a “throwback” emphasis. Frequently one can read on a blurb of album descriptions pertaining to a return to basics, an echo from the old-school, inspiration from the classics, and so on. Actual attempts to follow through on these aspirations are often non-existent and miss the mark entirely. The little bit of info on Fort Romeau’s “Insides” album when it arrived in the KZUU office was unassuming, with no real attempts to make bold statements. It is, after all, just a small blurb. But if there was ever an album in recent years which in its music used subtlety and a minimalist approach to achieve loud statements, it would be “Insides.” Fort Romeau​’s “Insides” may be the first album in a while which accurately and fully achieves an honest attempt at echoing yesteryear sounds and vibes of house music.

From the get-go, it is abundantly clear that Fort Romeau is attempting to preserve and cherish the synths, drums, progression, bass and waspy vocals typical from the early days of electronic music. The simple progression, the loops, haziness, the frequent switching between warmth and coldness, it’s all there. The album has captures the calm excitement that the entire genre and scene seemed to have. The many, often old-school sounding synths evoke such a wonderfully vintage vibe that makes the very polished and beautiful album simply so special. The minimalistic approach allows for the listener to bind the sounds and vibes together to hear either a warm full-bodied or chilly stripped-down sound and this varies throughout. The album starts small and homey, but by track three, “All I Want” will whip you around to a very strict four on the floor, very dancey house track. The title track “Insides” is a hazy concoction of a variety of cosmic and spacey sounds with an inquisitive nature, which is counteracted later by “Lately” which is forthright very german-esque sounding minimal/tech-house track, with it’s slow and repetitive loops and beats snaking their way along. The cold, steely, frigid nature of this song is oddly the most emotive track on the album, if just in a more subtle and rigid way. It is without doubt my favourite track on the album

What makes this album great is its completeness. For eight tracks it does not drift into more experimental approaches, or other genres. No, “Insides” is a solid eight track album of nothing else but house music with echoes and inspirations from the past. This is not to say that they all sound the same (quite the opposite) but in terms of aim and point of the album, it is crafted so exquisitely well. Indeed, in a period where many electronic releases carry on about a return to basics and vibes from the past, “Insides” stands above the rest. It could be the most important release of the year, if only because of its well-produced result of actually evoking this old-school vibe, but also because Fort Romeau is the first to accurately achieve such a product, entirely that which he aimed to do. This is a true celebration of classic house music, the development of electronic music as a whole, and the moods and emotions a producer can evoke from a piece of music alone.

– Nick


EP II by Yumi Zouma

Ever since the New Zealand trio released their single “Alena” back in 2014, I’ve been impatiently anticipating for their EP II, soon to be released under Cascine, a Brooklyn-based label specializing in exquisite sounds.

Thanks to Hype Machine’s exclusive album premiere, I was finally able to taste the first full scoop of it. Although divided in three different cities–Paris, New York, and New Zealand–the three friends successfully produced this polished 80’s soft funk piece, passing back and forth the demos via DropBox, across the borders. The separation between the members explains so much of its “we don’t know where we are or who we are but we are having a good time. We are loving it, and we don’t care” vibes.

Here’s a music video of “Catastrophe,” from EP II.

The groovy beats are shadowed over by cloudy synths and hazy vocals, creating a nostalgic flashback to when nothing really mattered–when responsibilities could easily be forgotten. The trio reminisces the memories of living in the same house together in Christchurch, New Zealand, as the female voices join the harmony of breezy dream-pop melodies and a carefree attitude in the lyrics. Touring with Lorde (ya, ya, ya) in New Zealand in 2014, the band gained popularity and now has been reviewed by several blogs and magazines, showered with positive feedback. With the second EP about to be released, I expect to see the media going even more nuts about these joyful sounds.

My favorite track off EP II is “Dodi.” The refreshingly gentle electric guitar picking beginning of the song really gets me prepared for the whole “Yumi Zouma Experience”: a creation of the nostalgic orb that swallows me as a whole. It makes me feel young; it makes me feel hopeful. This is the kind of music that touches my heart’s soft spot.

You can stream Yumi Zouma’s premiere EP II all this week exclusively on Hype Machine.

Check out Yumi Zouma’s tour dates and discography on their office website.