Emissive - City Of Rooms (Self-Released, 2021
The Toronto based producer brings his A game yet again on a superb 5 tracker that toes the line expertly between rhythmically enriching fantasies and inter-reflective melodic oceans.
Reaching far into the pool of how melody can move and flux the mind always leads to exciting results, and its fair to say that over the years many have been drawn to the ways in which keys can convey both mood and environment. To achieve such ends, its often how chordal arrangements not only work in a structural manner, but contain a significant amount of heart and texture, weaving a journey for us that is played out by both musicality and mood. For many genres such as Ambient, Deep House, Deep Techno, IDM and many more, its the melodies that provide the transcendental moments that many listeners crave, with each genre showcasing its own methods of sweeping us off our feet and arriving somewhere in the distance, feeling a long way from home before cascading down to reality. Its the sweeping vistas, the considered and emotional chord progressions, the dwindling and expanding atmospheres, and the intricate patterns of keys and pads that work their magic on the mind, soothing as much as visualising, tantalising as often as wowing, easing as much as challenging, and this all boils down to the ways in which these structures are conveyed to us through individual songs or records. Its the time taken by a producer to craft certain wavelengths, to manipulate and play around with the strands of thought that run through their mind when applying certain designs and aspects to their worlds, as without words the melodies and drums have to work overtime to speak to us, to provide a narrative that in many ways matches our experiences of people and the world around us. If the sounds of the melodies are highly considered, then the amount of discourse that goes on between the varying layers is utterly fascinating, as the sequences and placements speak to each other, creating a series of conversations and connections that traverse within the boundaries of the track, furthering its meaning and presence above and beyond what we know and into the realms of the imagination. It provokes us to elevate ourselves to the levels in which these tracks operate, picking up and taking in all we can process through one listen, but acknowledging the fact that the level of interactivity is so great that repeat listens is a given, just to be able to take it all in - or at least attempt to. When the music does this, it shows to us how much the artist behind it has put into the worlds they are creating, emphasising the notions of flow and progression as much as the emotion that flows through the core of the music, giving the overall experience a deeply personal vibe that just adds further weight to proceedings. We revel in these works, not just because the sounds and vibes are fundamentally interesting and engaging, but the atmosphere, the environment, the setting develops into such a compelling and emotionally unravelling place, a set of contexts where we can begin to imprint ourselves and our trains of thought into the ongoing bliss. It simply always happens when melodies are considered in pioneering and creative ways, and getting into the differing ways in which producers utilise these elements always leaves a lasting impression, be it through ambience, emotional progressions, deep and brooding chordal lines, or weaving intricacies - the results are somewhat similar, but the feelings and the settings we find ourselves within always remain totally unique.
In many ways, producer Evan Vincent has been achieving the absolute maximum with his works for some time now, showcasing all the dexterity of the contemporary musical landscape whilst injecting so much of the traditional tropes of warm evocative melodies along the way. His body of work, although small in terms of physical releases, speaks absolute volumes in terms of its content, with his solo work and his releases as a member of Active Surplus redefining the concept that quality is certainly better than quantity, as each time the needle hits a new groove we are provided with a blossoming audial world that is big on inventiveness and emotional encapsulation. Not only are the tunes of the highest audial quality, but the range in which Vincent spreads himself out over is very impressive, with nods towards deep house, Baltimore Club, techno and high octane ambient scattered throughout his releases, all of which are explored and delivered in brilliant and intricate ways that help to define his musical identity, that is increasingly looking like one which will shine so brightly for years to come. You would think you were listening to someone with years of releases under their belts, but such is the totality of Vincent's sound that it feels so developed, so concrete, so established, a musical outlook that will continue to grow and abound with each passing step. Vincent's own music feels very invested in and emotionally full, crafted from memories and experiences that help to define the manner in which he lays down the instruments, guiding his decisions in making tone and atmosphere, providing the tunes with an additional layer of thoughtfulness that makes our investment in it all that little bit greater. In terms of touching on the brightest tenants of numerous melodic driven genres, he hits the nail on the head in terms of application every single time, but its what he does when bridging the gaps between that helps to craft a unique and utterly compelling soundscape, where sparkling chords and key sequences expand and contract at will to curate a wonderfully flowing audial narrative that is as bold as it is delicate. In terms of outputs, Vincent has released a small but profoundly impressive set of records, all of which we will touch on here, starting off with the brilliant self-titled Active Surplus record, which landed last year on Pacific Rhythm. As a house orientated record, it had absolutely everything, from the rhythmic melodic pulses through to the choppy and impactful beats, the sounds felt right at home on the label and for sure will be designated as a future classic. The duo also offered up the track 'Peppermint' to Volume 4 of the 'Sounds of the Pacific' series on the same label, which is just as colourful and beaty as their solo outing. From his solo career, Vincent has released a couple of pieces, starting off with the utterly sublime 'Ontario Space' album, which landed in 2019 and announced the producer to the world in very compelling fashion indeed. In 2020, he released a collaborative track with Immigrant Muscle, 'Real Free', a ever evolving track that contains evocative lyrics which reflected the BLM movement during the past year. In all, Vincent has made a big impression in a short period of time, with his music speaking volumes and acting as a medium to our mental wonderings and passing day dreams, which in many ways is one of key features of great electronic music. It panders to our immersive tendencies through its subtle outlook, taking us on a journey that's populated with meaning and purpose, journeying through the membranes of the real and the imagined on a trip that lasts over repeated listens. Its a collection of experiences that Vincent has curated so very well, and as a spread of tones and textures it does wonders to our inner self, embracing us with a warmth that is consistent across the board, either in the club or at home. Its a nice little journey to undertake, so why not check out his previous works if you can, its very much worth it.
And now we arrive at his latest offering, 'City Of Rooms', and this in many ways feels like Vincent has built upon the sonics found in his excellent EP debut under the Emissive name. The first EP was all about almost beatless soundscapes that swelling, delved and dived with such elegance that traversing the cosmos through the spectrum of the city felt like a given, such was his ability to piece it all together so flawlessly. Here, he takes these notions and retains the sense of progression found in the melodies but whips them around some awe inspiring drumming patterns, with the flow between densities and sparseness so very impressive. There's a clear path between A and B, but its the manner in which we are led down multiple paths that all lead towards a mellowed sense of euphoria, our spirits rising higher and higher as each beat and key channels deep into our souls. Its a record with an extraordinary amount of beauty, flavour and depth, so without further delay, lets get our teeth into this wonderful piece of music....
Up first comes 'Quartz Register', and this one begins in bliss filled surroundings. The light drumming sounds gently shift from left to right as a constant flow of synths fill the middle ground of proceedings, keeping a firm eye over the introduction of the kicks as they align themselves within the centre of the cut, with the chords retaining their structure as they sweep through the layers with subtle transitions. The sweeping cascade arrive soon after to provide that high end feel on top of the cut, as additional stabs rhythmically apply themselves through the middle with the drums upping the ante in response, keeping the mood suitably progressive in nature. The rippled feel of the cut makes for compulsive listening, our minds very much on board for all the switches and movements that occur on a frequent basis throughout the track, the deep spacious techno feel winning us over with its intricacy and mellow feel. The track takes a breather to allow for us to soak up all the melodic richness, before sliding right back into the core driving rhythm of it all, and we are totally on board for one final journey into the outer realms of space and time. Superb opener. Up next comes 'Natural Springs', and this one begins with the kicks and keys taking the lead. Light percussive elements swim around the top ends, gently tapping along to the rhythmic core, as further features get added in to craft an intriguing drumming pattern, with each passing moment seeing further aspects thrown into the melting pot. We don't have to wait long for the addition of some really beautiful melodic features, with the bass line quietly moving underneath as rising chordal lines move within the top section of the track with grace and meaning. The keys move away to draw focus once more to the drumming segments, with their feel really emphasised via long melodic-less scenes where we can really place ourselves deep within the sounds that arise from the drum machines, the bass line being the only consistent melodic feature. The chords make a return not soon after the extended break, with a new texturally rich key line making itself known as a counter act to the wave like pads, with both sequences moving around the ground plain in terms of volume, application and tone. It creates that sense of expanding and contracting, where the track feels at ease with turning in on itself before pushing out further and further towards the distant boundaries of our collective visions. Delightful stuff. Up next comes 'Sunset Yellow', and this one begins with the swells of the chords leading the way. Their singularity provides lots of room for their application to be tweeked and manipulated, and Emissive wastes no time in pushing their feel to its absolute maximum, their feel and vibe washing over us with a vibrancy and tone that warms the mind and the body. The drums that align themselves fairly quickly within the track help to establish a sense of momentum, filling the spaces between the chords with a sense of intent, as we drift along to a wonderful melodic driven rhythm that is so intoxicating to delve within. The track takes a dip to introduce us to a arpeggio key line that taps into the rhythmic progressions, moving very elegantly indeed with the times as we shift through differing spaces and places with increasing urgency and purpose. The chords do wonders, with their presence allowed to extend above and beyond pretty much all of the track as the drums take moments away before coming right back into the mix to support their melodic driven partner, with the end result feeling like a beautiful dream that plays out so vividly before our eyes. A meandering through hazy fields and quiet country roads, the city flickering on the horizon line, our friends and partners smiling amongst the fields of washed out greens and yellows, the sky a piercing orange as we enter into the breezy evening, with this cut soundtracking our experiences to an absolute T. A beautiful piece of music.
'Chlorophyll' lands next, and this one begins in very sombre and graceful territories indeed. The arpeggio key line dips and dives through the thinly veiled chordal underbelly, peaking through the morning light as it slides from side to side, taking in all it can as the track begins to respond and grow around it. Drumming elements push themselves to the mid section, gently vibrating along to the rhythmic feel of the keys as the progression oversees a gentle movement onwards and upwards through the gears, with the complexity found in the drums lifting the already soaring melodic sequences up and beyond all we imagine. The climax arrives as the keys fall away to reveal the foundational structure of drums, which gives us a chance to get to know them a bit better, and its a real pleasure as their personality is very much reflective of the bountiful keys that reside in the top layer of the track. When the keys do slide back into view, they leave as big an impression as they did when they first arrived in the introduction, with this segment seeing a greater level of dynamics playing out with a solo like thread weaving its way through the arpeggios with flair and grandeur. Its a sequence of events that you will want to replay over and over again, this one is truly mesmerising. To wrap things up, we have 'Constellation Of Friends', and this one begins with the drumming pattern leading the way. The light touches of the 808 simmer underneath as the drums make space for the bass line to slide into view, the smoothness which is applied to the progression is something to marvel at. The chords arrive a few moments afterwards, sliding down through the track from top to bottom, floating along to the rhythmic pulses of life as the cut dips into its first beatless segment. The melodics then regroup as we ascend once more, the flickering notes adding further depth and meaning to the kicks and light hats, with the layering on display transfixing us with its beauty and delicate nature. Tonally this track is so on point, taking us head first down a path of poignancy and memory, directing us to shared experiences and personal windows that shed light on the producer behind it all and our relationship with the soundtracks of our lives. A gorgeous track, and one that could certainly slide into view next time we find ourself in a particularly profound location.
This record has all the feels we could ever ask for, and then some. Vincent has already demonstrated to us his abilities as a member of Active Surplus and his solo works, both of which in some ways feed into this record, although it feels very much like an evolution of his debut EP under his own name. Taking the majestic tones and environmental narrative that was portrayed so impeccably on this record, Vincent adds drums and rhythmic progression into the mix, and the results are simply outstanding. Each cut has its own parable to tell, its personal short story that starts and finishes in the most spectacular of fashions, eager to highlight every single phase and sentence as if it really means something. You get that feeling with every element Vincent places in this record - it is there for a reason, it plays a part, from the smallest cameo to the grandest show stopping role, the elements amount to a musical experience that is big on atmosphere and wise in its emotional depth. Vincent displays a deeply personal musical style here, and its one that you will for sure fall in love with. Perhaps a date with the night sky is next on our agenda. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
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