North Satellite - Core Discord (Startree, 2021)
Eugene Tambourine keeps up with his wonderfully enchanting sound on the latest EP from Darshan Jesrani's Startree imprint, which contains all the splendeur and masterful compositional skills that we have come to expect.
Its no secret here at EG HQ that we really do adore when musicians really apply themselves into their work, with plethoras of instruments flowing our way that help to paint the most vivid of pictures. This is very much a feeling that abounds from the work of New York based Eugene Tambourine, who for some time now has been wowing music lovers the world over with his earthy and intricate take on lightly meandering music, where the audial narrative dips around the core essence with a majesty that feels unmatched in many of his peers. His abilities as a multi-instrumentalist shine through on every single release he has bought forth, with delicate layering effortlessly unravelling within a musical structure that always keeps you on your toes, with a heartfelt essence channelling itself right into the core of it all that helps to maintain our steady connection to the music. The infectiousness of his sound remains very much consistent throughout it all, a deft and intelligent blend of genres like Downtempo, Soul, House and Balearic all coming together in this flawless symbiosis of rhythm and melody, with his voice popping up at all the right moments to provide a sense of intimacy that moves right from the top and and slides way down into the foundations of it all. We feel immediately welcomed into his music, be it a more up tempo mover or a track that is happy to keep its frequencies close to the ground in a slow and graceful momentum, you always get that sense that something special is holding your hand as you wonder by within the audial frequencies. You see all manner of contexts start to spring into life amongst his music, be it the warm and hazy NYC evenings or cruising along the sun kissed roads of the Mediterranean Rivera, there's an essence within it all that just helps you to picture the most beautiful of spaces. And at the end of the day, music should be about escapism, about picturing a world away from ours that feels stripped away of its worries and it ills, an atmosphere that actively encourages us to look beyond and simply feel alive. In terms of releases, Tambourine has released a number of wonderful records under varying names, starting off with the 'North Satellite' release, which landed in 2016 and helped to define the hallmarks of his wonderful sound; the 2019 record 'Pathways/K.G.E.T', that landed under The Lemko Unlimited Orchestra, which contained so wonderful moments of artistry; and finally, the wondrous 'A Rising Sign' EP, which we placed on our best of from last year, and remains perhaps one of his biggest musical statements yet. In all, Tambourine's music is a cauldron of gorgeous sublimity, with so many moments that simply take the breath away with their warm embrace, our hearts chiming along to the delicate instrumentation and the wonderful vocal performances, all of which is set with an environment that never fails to mesmerise. You feel engaged from the off, immersed into a world that has no horizon lines but instead seems to unravel onwards into forever, a never ending road that winds through valleys and open plains as we nod our heads along to the rhythm. Tambourine's world is an intoxicating one, and one that can soundtrack the times when we wish to move, when we wish to stare out the window, or when we feel the joy exude all over us, its simply a feeling that resonates within all of us, and he is able to tease it out of us on a track by track basis. If you wish to soar just that little bit higher, and perhaps close your eyes and immerse yourself in it all, then go check out his previous works, you seriously won't be disappointed.
And now we move onto his latest release, 'Core Discord', which arrives once again on Darshan Jesrani's wonderful Startree imprint. Whereas his previous effort was a joyous celebration of life and its varying vitalities, this one has a more poignant and emotive tinge to it, something which is reflected in the tempos that set the foundations and the melodic sequences that weave their way around these rich rhythmic undertones. Its an EP of two halfs in many respects, with the first two tracks hugging the lower end frequencies and tempos with a hypnotic feverishness, whilst the other two cuts bring it all back round to the sound which has stuck in the memory from his previous effort, and as an audial experience it feels inherently balanced, filled to the brim with joy, and contains all the wonderful emotional blends that you could hope for. The incredible musicianship that has become a key cornerstone of his work is present through out, with beautiful sequences of keys and drums interlaced throughout as we gently meander through a series of wonderful spaces and places, as we arrive at the most soothing context imaginable. So, without further delay, lets dive right into this absolute beauty....
'Evil' arrives first, and this one begins with some ominous yet strangely uplifting tones. The initial outlay of light drumming and deep bass chords provide this sense of foreboding that cuts to the core of proceedings, with this initial foundation balanced out with the rich array of intricate melodic elements that start to unravel up top, which multiplies into a dazzling array of elements that all work alongside one another to provide an ensnaring experience of sorts. The vocals arrive soon after, which repeat the words 'there's evil in me/cause there's evil I see', with these lines really channelling into the core of the track, giving the instrumental elements a greater sense of meaning and momentum, with the track descending a little bit into a less dense section. The vocals return during this point, which start to really become introspective as we come across discussions about the self and misery, and this then leads into further explorations of the melodic capacity of the track, which continues to flow through phases of delightful key flourishes that just sing directly to the soul. The track then moves into a new stage, the final phase it seems, where the vocals and keys remain around one another to really hammer home the points we have just experienced, and it rounds off the cut so beautifully. What an opener. Up next comes 'Transcendentalmental', and this one begins in pretty much similar territories to the previous cut. This time round however the intro is given more time to weave its way around us, with the ominous bass chords provided with time to breath a little bit bigger as the vocals don't make an appearance, and this also provides more focus to the intricate interplays that occur within the other melodic sequences. The sense of depth is astonishing, with all these little intricacies provided with their own little space in which to flourish, and the way in which melodic sequences cascade into view is something to behold as all these tones and textures swing alongside one another, content in giving over to an experience that constantly wants to grow. We surf along on the crest of the biggest swelling wave, with delightful key lines tapping into that happy place in the mind, as all the instruments involved continue to talk to us on a very deep level indeed. Its wonderful to experience the first cut without the vocals, as it provides the perfect foil to the lyricism that got us originally connected to the meaning, and now we can dip between the two at our leisure. Wonderful stuff.
Up next comes 'Fighting/Luchando', and this one begins in slightly more uptempo territories. The vibe comes out swinging, with a vibrant undercurrent of rhythm keeping the ship very steady indeed as continual flows of melodic features begin to fill up the spaces between the elements, with a delightful lead key line helping to shape the vibe up top. The vocals start to surface around this point, repeating the lines 'its my life, its my life I'm fighting for', providing yet again a purposeful set of lyrics for us to associate with, as they come to us with a melodic less backing part before the keys explode into life once again. The sequences continue to move between sparser spaces before moving into areas filled with enriching layers, and its a flow that charms the heart with its effortless feel, as the instrumentation remains - as ever - so very on point. A truly beautiful cut indeed. To wrap things up, we have the title track, and this one begins with the technologic vibe to get us going. The drums remain spacious and full of purpose, with the electronic laden lead line captivating right from the off, and before long the deep and vibrant bass line slides into view alongside the light stabs on the left hand side of the pan, and these two elements seem to encourage a whole plethora of other elements to come into the picture. The groove is infectious, its dynamism shining forth from the combination of differing paces and textures, with this notion helping to really invite us into the mix, as an emphasis is placed on how we can continue to grow with the times as we move through the gears with a delightful sense of intensity. The track moves into a breakdown of sorts around the 2:30 min mark, which provides us with more time to get to know the wonderful bass line and its weaving flow, with the spaces between providing us with little moments in which to imprint ourselves within the momentum, and its this inviting feel which has not left us from the moment this record started playing. Truly amazing stuff, all round.
It says a lot when you leave a 4 tracker feeling very much fulfilled on all levels, and that can only be achieved when you balance things out to their utmost. Eugene Tambourine feels very much like a musician who can balance feels and instrumentalism in equal measure, with emphasis placed very much on how the vocals and the keys connect to us on an emotional level, and as a result we feel as if the music has really spoken to us. He remains a master at conveying mood via complex and delicately poised musical sequences and structures, and on this record we are provided with two somewhat differing takes on his craft - on the one hand, you have the somewhat sombre A side that dips and weaves around a more laid back yet inward looking sound, whereas the B side is all about feeling a little bit more outward looking, of being sure of oneself and feeling like there is something worth fighting for. This feeling translates so well throughout, and you get a sense that its a mixture of Tambourine's musical dexterity and his vision which help to sell the idea to us, and its something that we would happily buy up time and time again. A gorgeous record, and one that we cannot recommend enough.
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