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

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Lxury – Into The Everywhere

Lxury, a.k.a. Andy Smith, made himself heard with his collaboration with college-mate Guy Lawrence from Disclosure J.A.W.S, and it would appear that since that release, Smith has been striving to quasi-distance himself from that “Disclosure” sound, in an almost dizzying way, with each release building interest and expectations, and Smith largely meeting each one, usually with a different approach and not keeping to a mold.

Lxury’s latest album “Into The Everywhere” [Greco-Roman] is a splendid release which weaves its way through all sorts of sounds, emotions, and progressions. An essence of washy, echoey, but “big” sound appear to the emphasis in many of the tracks. Think “wall of sound.” Above all, however, there is a warmth in the music of this EP that underlies every song that surrounds the listener. This warmth is present from start to finish, in different ways, atmosphere, and intensity.

The opening track “Pick You Up” is a whirring and whirrying track with a loving atmosphere expressed by the vocals. “Equals” follows with a more stern, very high-street sounding track that would find it’s way well to a catwalk. I like the long intro how one can hear the various bits and pieces coming together slowly to create the entire basis of the track in a long drawn out form. Depford Goth contributes vocals to the following track “Square 1” a thick and slow-dancey R&B pop ballad. Depford Goth’s deep and tense tone works well with Lxury’s warm music. Things pick up the pace again with “World 2” with finicky drums snapping their way through the happy yet oddly creepily dark tone of the music, with “could have been my lover” repeated ominously throughout the song by a wistful voice. “Neighbour” is a lovely blend of natural drum, pipe and piano sounds in a thumping party track that is hard not to dance to, all mixed together with hazy vocals. The heat here is not a comforting one for cold evenings, rather a humid, wet, heat, that you simply dance through to ignore. The album is capped off by a very interesting unique slower track “Everywhere” that catches you a little of guard, especially after the nature of the previous song. It is soppy, and gives off a sense of reflection and control, and gives off an utterly euphoric yet mature emotion.

These are all wonderful tracks that aren’t strictly house tracks and yet could be played at any dark club. The use of a warming sound in various ways in all tracks, be it intentional or not, is wonderful and makes the whole album. The earnest nature of the music gives it some personality that we all can at times relate to; We want to simply be, stopping intermittently for a bit a fun, before returning to a state of mind that is the most comforting to us.

To me, this is the first great release of 2015.

Real Estate – “Atlas”

As an active surf-rock enthusiast, I was overjoyed upon hearing of the latest release by Real Estate, titled Atlas.  Coming off of their 2011 release, Days, Real Estate has enjoyed a fair amount of critical acclaim, even being listed as the best album of that year by our staff members.  With their memorable guitar strums and gentle, carefree vocals Real Estate has earned their rightful spot in anyone’s “Summer Jamz” playlist. On Atlas however, the band shifts its mood towards something slightly gloomier.  The playful haze of Days has cleared, giving rise to a sound that is more deliberate yet introspective.  Atlas manages to accomplish the daunting task that all bands face of maintaining their collective identity while simultaneously avoiding creative stagnation.  Keep in mind, this is still the same Real Estate that had us reaching in blind nostalgia back in 2008.  Their drifting melodies have only been refined to produce their most cohesive and enjoyable album yet.  The opening track for Atlas begins with a melancholy guitar riff, eventually building into the warm beachside sounds that lay the groundwork for the entire piece.  The band has always been able to push all the buttons for making catchy tunes and feel-good vibes, and their latest album is no exception.  Stream below and enjoy.

-Denali

 

Nothing – “Guilty of Everything”

 

 

Nothing’s debut album “Guilty of Everything” envelopes the listener in a thick blanket of shoegazy alt-rock, teleporting them into an ethereal realm of artful angst and fuzzy guitar riffs.  Hidden within the thunderous wall of sound is a spring of analgesic tranquility making the album near impossible to stop listening to.  The band’s heavily distorted guitars and spectral vocals provide a rich atmosphere which gives credence to critics’ comparisons to giants like My Bloody Valentine.  “Guilty of Everything” is set to release on March 4th.  Stream below and enjoy.

-Denali

 

 

Mt. Royal – Mt. Royal EP

Mt. Royal is a relatively new group based out of Baltimore led by Celebration frontman Katrina Ford.   Much like Celebration, Mt. Royal touts swaying, soulful grooves, yet manages to find its own voice by breaking away from Celebration’s roots in psychedelia.  Their latest EP, candidly titled Mt. Royal EP saturates the listener with rich melodies and intoxicating rhythms.  Upon listening to first track on the EP, one can quickly draw parallels to heavy-hitters like Beach House or Foxygen (who I love), though Mr. Royal is still able to bring something unique to the table to avoid being redundant.  Ford’s powerful range of vocal expression coupled with the ardent instrumentation from the rest of the band makes Mt. Royal EP a fun and stimulating listen.   Give it a go on the player below.

-Denali

Dog Bite – Tranquilizers

Every January around this time I’m usually sliding into the phase where 90% of what I listen to is chillwave.  Something about the cold, grey outdoors moves me to reach out to something warm and saturated.  Dog Bite’s latest LP Tranquilizers happens to fit the niche I’m looking to fill this time of year with its misty atmosphere and transcendent vocals.  With a name like Dog Bite, I initially expected an album filled with guitar-smashing punk fury.  But I was pleasantly surprised upon hearing the laid-back, CASIO-driven sounds, displaying that their album title was well-earned.  That’s a lot of hyphens.  Dog Bite’s frontman is the former keyboardist from Washed Out, whose influence is apparent in the first minute of the opening track.  Rooted in its thick chillwave sounds is a clear affinity for 80’s new-wave music, which perfectly compliments Phil Jones’ deep, mellow vocals.  Give Tranquilizers a spin the next time you’re relaxing in your warm apartment/dorm, looking out at the frozen tranquility that encapsulates our area.

-Denali

Diane Coffee – My Friend Fish

 

Some of you may recognize Shaun Fleming as the Disney child-star who lent his voice in popular cartoons like Kim Possible.  Since his days working with Disney, Fleming has pursued a much different route of entertainment, mainly being the drummer for the indie band Foxygen.  Under the moniker “Diane Coffee”,  Fleming recently released his debut solo album titled My Friend Fish.  As expected, the album was a fantastic blend of soulful 60’s sounds, not too far off from efforts by Foxygen.  The first track on the album, “Hymn”, opens with a joyful chime on an organ, followed by building drums and guitars accompanied by a soothing choral sample to set the tone for the entire work.  If you loved Foxygen’s last release as much as I did, then I would definitely recommend checking out this album.