Etari - Rainbow Eucalyptus (100% Silk, 2021)
Echos of the dusty fields and rave tinged vistas sparkle throughout on this stellar record from the LA based producer, which delves deep into how melodies evoke a sense of place and feeling within all of us.
When placed in the right hands, melody becomes less of a subtlety and more of a all engrossing virtue, it's feeling and power a precise and beautiful blend of euphoria. It's application has always been an important aspect of dance music, moving from the rich depths of dub through to the scales of ambient, via the clear cut rhythm of house and the cosmic ascents of techno, with it's appearance serving drastically between these genres to great effect. Progressive forms of dance music have also applied the notions of melodic excellence to great effect, with the builds of rhythm allowing for all kinds of sequences to transpire and adapt to ever swelling soundscapes. Many producers today operate within these realms of musical expressionism, as their creative juices feel wrapped up with the dual notion of providing tonal beauty and percussive mastery all within a single set of cuts. With these kinds of sounds we witness before our eyes an unwinding of sorts, where the static elements feel pushed to the back in an effort to provide a fluidity that mimics life itself, fluctuating and morphing like an organism with a mind of it's own. We situate ourselves firmly in the middle of proceedings, with an eagerness to understand all that flows in and around the track to it's maximum possibility, never for one moment feeling too overwhelmed or out of place, merely floating along to an intoxicating blend of emotion and pulse. It's the kind of music that feels grounded in our day to day thoughts and experiences, yet contains a scope on top that allows for those mental meanderings, an alternative edge that draws our attention to new spaces and places we may or may not have experienced before. We remain captivated by the melodic spectrum on show, it's form developing over time to vividly portray endless vistas sequenced between smaller scale forest walks, the scope constantly changing in order to provide us with a feeling that never seems to stand still. The use of melody within dance music has always been an integral component, in that without the reliance of narrative via lyrics to tell us how to feel or what the song means, we are left open to interpretation about where these tones take us, and indeed what message they are looking to portray. The best usage in this regard is when producers are able to communicate to us the vividness of the worlds they are crafting, utilising a language found within drum machines and keyboards but elegantly distilled and interpreted to us via compositions that operate on so many levels. These kinds of sounds leave a lasting impression on listeners, in that it's not simply a series of regulated chordal patterns but a dazzling array of chordal flows that merge and flux with the times, crafting a sense of conservational discourse rather than a single voice communicating a narrowed feeling. The worlds, the narratives, the contexts, they all get portrayed so very well by one's use of melody, with this approach paying dividends in regards to investment in that artist going forward, their story one of beauty and tone that would always find the time to grow. Melody remains key to many music makers, but for some it's the backbone of all that they do, be it either soaring progressions or the lightest of textural overlays, everything works as one streamlined unit to make the experience matter when we come out the other side. And, in the end, isn't that what great dance music should do?
One such producer who has dedicated themselves to exploring the intricacies of melodies and their all encompassing power is LA based producer Lexi Andre, who releases music and DJs under her Etari moniker. To say that her music and her mixes are immersive is an understatement, as from the off within both we are immediately transported to expertly constructed soundscapes that are filled to the brim with fascinating objects, seamless rolling views, and emotive heartfelt atmospheres that do so much to move the body and the mind. Her sound is hard to pin down in a traditional sense, with flickers of house and techno percussive lines interspersed with Bass/Breaks feels, with this rhythmic underpinning a broad passion and understanding for the foundations of her sound, with the experience completed with the exceptional usage of keys to lift minds to some very special places indeed. The keys operate on so many levels, with dazzling arpeggios knitting a fine web of texture on the sides of the pan as the most heartfelt of pads worm and weave around within the mid and top ranges, their feel providing an enriching sense of scale to proceedings, as if we are being introduced to a beautiful landscape every time a track starts. Each track sort of displays these qualities but it remains a different take each time, with the drums always speaking so eloquently as the melodic flavours do much to lift the soul each and every time, as unbreakable bonds begin to develop between each of the tracks on her records. It's a vibe that feels alive, a vibrancy which touches upon the human condition and the contexts in which we find ourselves, a blend of contextual flavours, the dance and the soul, and it all comes together so very effectively in her music. Andre has had a long running association with the excellent Brazilian imprint Yellow Island Records, whom she has released a number of tracks with for label compilations, along with repping the imprint on a number of her radio mixes, which we highly recommend you check out on her soundcloud if you like a particularly kind of quiet epicness within your mixes. To set the stage for her new record, we are going to quickly highlight her previous releases, either solo or as part of a wider family unit, starting off with the superb feels found on her debut solo effort, 'Heal Yourself', that arrived via Yellow Island back in 2019. The EP features 3 original cuts from Andre plus two remixes, with the overall tone one of bliss fuelled excursions along the fine lines between human perceptions and the landscapes that drive our imaginations and emotions, placing us up high and down low on a journey that knows no ends in relation to scale. It expands and contracts with such ease that the experience unravels with a startling effectiveness, providing us with so much to see and do as time continues to pass us by like the water that laps over our feet. She also contributed a wicked cut, 'Conversation with Renegade', to the 2019 compilation record 'Various Artists 001'; 'There's Music In Her Eyes' was featured on the 2020 comp 'Various Artists 2020'; and finally, the track 'In The Horizon' was added to the 'Astral Therapy' comp, also from 2020. In all, there's a real sense of linkage that occurs within her music, one that feels bound by a creative vision that from the off has allowed her to really find expressionism in every corner and facet of her sound, from which an audial identity has been forged on the ideals of continual evolutions and exploring of all that feels possible. Her music is deeply captivating, it's form providing us with many special moments in which to feel involved and engrossed in all that comes our way, our minds firmly swept along with all that comes along. It's a pulsating experience always, starting off from the quiet horizon lines before sweeping across the plains, rushing through the trees like a soft breeze before it lifts the leaves and grains that lie around our feet, surging through our bodies with a quiet intensity that fills the world around us such a vividness that cannot be matched.
And now we arrive at her latest release, 'Rainbow Eucalyptus', which lands via the iconic 100% Silk imprint. Inspired by the cool air, the shaking of the trees, and the forces of the rave, this record sees Etari expand her vision across 8 cuts of utter serenity, with one of these tracks coming courtesy of Etari and fellow Yellow Island family member Nørus, with the results nothing short of exceptional. From the off we are transported to her world, where the feels are constantly sky bound and the rhythms are constantly morphing within the breeze, as the sun sets within the most engrossing horizon line you have ever seen. Melodically there are few better records you will hear all year, with a dynamic blend of chordal progressions intermingled with stunning textural touches that simply elevate the compositions to epic proportions. But underneath all the grandeur and visual imagry, there's a hell of a lot of heart and soul, with the immersive qualities of the tracks helping to bind our feelings to the world being conveyed before our very eyes, and in the end, that's exactly what we want in a dance music record. The narrative is compelling, the journey one of soul searching, the end feeling one of sheer bliss, and with that sentence lets dive right into this bountiful meandering......
Up first comes 'El Sol (Etari's Ambient Mix)', and this one starts off with the swells to get us going. The singular chordal presence could move mountains with it's application, as the lightest of textured crackles add a kind of boundary to the scope, the pads doing their best to replicate the flutters that occur within nature. The ensemble is then joined by delicate drumming patterns that do much to add depth to proceedings, with flickerings of keys cascading on both sides of the pan as the hums of further melodics drive their way through the composition to give that two fold experience. The textures keep abounding as time goes by, swerving from left to right as the density of the track keeps growing and growing, steadily increasing as time passes by with little switches moving us from this point to the next. It all dramatically switches it up to leave the track with just the swells and the cascading keys, reminding us of what once was as we melt into the night sky, our energy levels completely filled up as we prepare for the dosage of rhythm about to come our way. What an opener. Up next comes the big one, 'Euphoric Disclaimer', and this one opens up with the chordal sweep moving between a series of rhythmic touches. The composition is a very inviting one, it's emotive qualities hard to deny and as we sweep into the next phase we are greeted with some delightful drumming indeed, it's swagger and serve doing much to drive forward the feel of the track, as further melodic sequences are thrown into the mix. The nature of the pads is one of serenity, of a soothing embrace that keeps returning to us with more to invest in, and as the track takes a dip in energy to leave just the keys, we are then reminded once more of the full power as the drums make their welcome return. The track then switches to a more percussive focused section, as the rhythm does it's thing with the light melodic flourishes operating on top with a real sense of intent, and before long the keys return back into the mix. The chords feel like when the land meets the sky when viewed from a distance, with the smooth outlines of the hills permeating into a deep blue, a relationship driven by time and force, but when played out in a matter of minutes it all feels very slowed and euphoric indeed, our hearts and minds racing to feel all that we can from this beautiful piece of music. Wonderful, just wonderful. Up next comes the title track, and this one begins with the vocal sample calling out to us on top of some really beautiful chords indeed. The scope of the track is outlined in these initial exchanges, as the keys groove atop a light percussive line, with the mix all bought together as the drums come into the picture, their binding nature keeping us firmly on side as the movement into the next phases begins. The track takes a dip in energy to reveal a deeply thoughtful melodic section, as the regular placement of the chords gets dipped into a series of sequences that work so very well in terms of texture and mood, and before long the drums arrive back into view with all the bravado in the world. The hats complete the mood in terms of groove, with the melodic features taking their time to move within the structure in providing the most eloquent of experiences, with the track taking another dip in energy to keep those cravings very much up high. The drums take their time to emerge slowly back into the mix, building from the kicks upwards to grace our presence once again, with additional sharp and sweet high line keys moving into view to complete the view in front of us. The track then filters itself out, swirling into the land and air around us, becoming one with the landscapes that surround us on a daily basis.
'Funky Fuchsia' arrives next, and this one begins with the scattering drum loops and distant pads to get us going. The ensemble is immediately intriguing, and as we spend a bit of time getting to know the mixture the kicks arrive to get the rhythmic palette up and running, with the initial collection of pads and kicks doing much to get the flavours reaching up for the skies. We are placed firmly in the middle of the progression, swaying from side to side with a delicate embrace that keeps the pulse pumping hard, and as the track descends into a lighter drumming passage our minds remain firmly locked into all that is abounding from this cut. The kicks arrive back into view not long after, with the ensuing blend still just as intoxicating, with the distant pads contrasting very nicely indeed with the swirling bass notes and cascading key lines. This one is all about the subtitles, and oh boy does it work to perfection. Excellent stuff. Up next comes 'Dandelion Dance', and this one begins with the drums to get us going. Their placement and feel is top notch, delving deep into the bottom ends to provide us with that extra special sense of rhythm, and as our attention remains set on the drums we start to see a peak of the keys come over the horizon line, and as time passes by their presence swells to give us the emotional gains we always receive from Etari's music, with the sparkling sequences on top an absolute delight. The way that the background synths feel like they are always growing is just unreal, a real audial masterclass for the ears, which only intensifies as the drums pull away to reveal the underbelly of the foundation, which then all joyously comes together in the most brilliant of ways. The rising do-do-do key line adds continued flavour into the melodic mixture, and as the tracks a final dip into the melodic pool we are reminded of the sheer majesty of it all, with the chords continuing to dazzle as much as they did when we first fixed eyes on them. Unreal, seriously.
Up next comes 'Luna Tears', and this one also begins with the drumming patterns getting us going. The keys arrive soon after, their presence undulating within the sea of rhythm as the percussive feels grow then grow some more, with the gradual build up of energy providing us with a beautiful depth of sonics to engage with. The track feels like it's constantly unwinding, with it's eventual plunge occurring as the kicks move away to reveal such an expanse of vitality, you can almost reach out and touch it, and before long everything fades away to just the swirls, and then it washes over you. The drums come back in all their glory, with the simmering chordal arrangements working their magic as the progression keeps on it's quest for audial nirvana, with the continual movements through differing densities and presences something to behold. You feel truly in the moment, the place in which you sit fading away to the rave in the desert, it's hold over you putting the biggest of smiles on your face and leaving us utterly in raptures. Beautiful, beyond belief. Up next comes the collab with Nørus, 'Garden Of Life', and this one smashes home the energy big time. The deep pads are quickly joined by the razor sharp drumming patterns, with the ensemble working over time to drag us into the morning life, the hazy yet ferociously uptempo rhythms doing a number over us in the feels department. The keys - as always - are so well considered, their presence fluxing within a brilliant rhythmic pattern as to provide a sense of fluidity into the progression, our hearts and minds constantly on the search for more. The track takes a breather before launching itself back into the full scope, with the movements remaining on force for all to see as we continually close our eyes in reaction to the extraordinary flow of all that is moving around us. Glorious stuff. To wrap things up, we have 'Comes In Waves (Etari's Hypnotic Mix)', and it only seems fitting to depart this world the same way we entered it. The track opens up with transfixing chordal arrangements, with light rhythmic undertones grooving underneath as filtered key sequences groove across the top ends with an ethereal glow, moving with the times as much as they are in their own world. The vocal snippets that resonate from within add further intrigue to the blend moving forwards, with a fluid like presence gracing the undercurrent of the track as we merge and serve with the times, floating atop a sea of melodic perfection. This is Etari at her most exploratory, with the focus less on the drumming patterns that make her usual compositions so intoxicating and moving the attention towards the blended melodics that take you to some very special places in an emotional sense. It's a perfect ender to a record filled to the brim with life, meaning and purpose, and it's what we have come to expect from a producer at the top of her game, and in total control of her creative wills.
There's an underlying presence that resides within this record, an unspoken energy that lives and breathes within all of us, and when you happen across it you immediately feel it deep within you. Etari's music is deeply visceral, her tracks painting a picture of all the experiences we have had in the dance and channelling it down her own personal vista, where the cool air blows atop the heads of the ravers and the sandy oranges soothe the mind, and this record is absolutely no different. The landscapes in which we find ourselves feel alive as a result of the music, their structures bouncing off the hillsides and the ground beneath us as the keys do some serious wonders to the mind, with the overall essence giving over so much to the listener. It's dance music with a duality, where the tones of the rhythm provide us with the life we need to keep moving and the emotional layers on top feed our consciousnesses with all kinds of possibilities. Just close your eyes, imagine a cool breeze, a bunch of your pals, and the sweetest music you could wish for - if this is you, you might just be listening to 'Rainbow Eucalyptus'. An utterly joyous piece of music.
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