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.

Baths – Disorderly

Will Weisenfield (AKA Baths) has managed to recapture some of the bright, wistful sounds that had captivated music lovers from his 2010 album Cerulean.  The radiating electronic beats in the track Disorderly immediately envelopes the listener into a realm of careless tranquility, a breath of fresh air after the melancholic Obsidian.  Weisenfield’s vocals are the same modest falsetto that has been featured before on his other tracks, and you know what?  They totally work.  If the track was left simply as an instrumental, it could easily have served as a relaxing soundtrack to your evening daydreams.  Yet with the complementation of the vocals, the song becomes slightly more apprehensive and anxious.  The mixture of these emotive forces make Disorderly the interesting Baths single we have all been waiting for.  This track was made available through the Los Angeles label Friends of Friends most recent compilation, titled What’s Good Los Angeles?  You can download the entire compilation (featuring Jerome LOL and Hodgy Beats) for free on October 4th and stream the single Disorderly below.

-Denali

Sevendeaths – “Concreté Misery”

Sevendeaths

When I think of Glasgow and music, two things come to mind: post-rockers Mogwai who put out their eight studio album recently, and party starting LuckyMe, who probably ubiquitously predicted the trap movement. Mogwai is the long lasting post-rock group that as of recently have invited synthesizers into play. Menacing at times, and melancholy at others, Mogwai has proved to have lasting power in their almost twenty year career. In Contrast, LuckyMe has been around since 2008. The label started the career of Hudson Mohawke, and featured releases from Lunice, Rustie, Baauer, as well as the debut of TNGHT, and many more. So for two musical forces so vastly different, how do they come together? These two otherwise opposite forces come together on Sevendeaths’ Concreté Misery.

Concreté Misery combines the sensibilities of Mogwai along with Sunn O))) with sparkling synthesizers and just a dash of fear to create an amazing release. How does LuckyMe tie into this? Well, they released it. While it’s not that surprising to see a label try something new, it is definitely still unexpected. This album doesn’t amp listeners up with machine gun hi-hats, but rather sends rushes to the adrenaline by layering noise on top of noise. The paranoia builds and builds until you literally can’t take it anymore, and only then do the songs very politely come to a close.

Sevendeaths, aka Steven Shade, knows when to end it though. While drone can be fun in a punishing way, this album only lasts 34 minutes and is very nicely broken up into six songs. While we all love hour long drone records consisting of three 20 minute songs, Concreté Misery is very digestible. Unlike the type of art music the title takes after, elicits actual emotions and doesn’t feel like your run of the mill avant-gardish musique concrète. 

Labyrinth Ear – Apparitions

Labyrinth Ear - Apparitions

8 / 10

Trust me, this London outfit deserves every bit of exposure they’ve gotten from the release of their second EP. It manages to fuse all the best elements of Swedish electro (think CEO) with witch house, without sounding gimmicky or familiar. Pitchfork calls them “synth-pop”, but I don’t think one genre does them justice–repetitive lyrics and tribal-inspired beats will carry you from “Amber” to “Humble Bones” as if you’re in a drug-induced dream state. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be salivating for a full-length by the time you make it to the end.

-Jillian

Recommended Tracks: “Goya”, “Amethyst Days”