Raoul - RJWM (N/A, 2020)
Rhythms from the deep collide with soft melodic flashes on this gorgeous new record from Raoul.
Its always a sign of a dynamic producer when you get to experience the many sides of a genre on a record. Rather than demonstrate their take on a singular side of a sound, the world becomes larger and more expansive, as we are treated to a range and spectrum of feels and emotions in response to the music contained within. When the flows and moves between tones and atmospheres are executed flawlessly, our engagement with these transitions becomes so much more, our interest and investment in the music starting to spill over from our minds and into the context we inhibit. These kinds of connections only really occur when the music within is dynamic but also pulled off with grace and vision, a dedication to the crafting of sound that allows us to dwell within it, the complexities and emotional sways leading us further into the world being created and narrated by the producer. The organic features that begin to sing from the music becomes apparent through the construction and energies that permeate through, as when you get that kind of complex drumming and considered key work it makes a song particularly stand out from the rest. Within the realms of house in particular, the transfixion that occurs when we come across these more dynamic and organic kinds of producers is even more so, due to the fact that we enjoy this fresh take on a genre which at times is bound by formulas and generic norms. When the people behind the music take time to craft something which is seeped in rhythm and sprinkles of emotive elements, where the relationship between the two feels real and supported, then you have got a winner almost immediately. The music feels alive, naturally evolving and in some ways, having a mind of its own. A journey emerges from these different takes on the sound, one that is full of vibrancy and exuberance, where anything can and will happen, our minds opened up to all sorts of possibilities and scenarios.
As someone who exercises this enriching organic sound into their music, Alessio Corni is certainly a producer to very much get involved in. Via his various alias and group work, he is very much a devotee to the potential, limitless feel that exists when you go down the path of vibrant production and ever evolving compositions. His music is very engaging, an experience that is beautifully balanced between the complexities of drumming patterns and the considered melodic touches that simply lift tunes to new levels and worlds. Corni borrows much from the older stylings of house music, where the crunchy drum machines provide a solid as hell bed rock for beautiful key work to take over and really slam home the messages found within the music. Owing to the nature of the tracks, we are very willing to give ourselves over to it, the music allowing us room and space to grow and discover as the structures and environments begin to stretch out into the sunset. To dive into his discography is to delve deep into the very purest essences of house music, where the traditions of the drum machine are kept very much alive for us all to take in with such joy and passion. As a member of the MHCrew (ie 'the MódnaHouseCrew'), he contributed to their track 'I Remember Aus' from the 2018 'Underground Is The New Upperclass' EP on 12Records, a beautiful saunter through rich expansive keys and classic drumming sounds. As Raoul, he debuted last year with his mixtape '424 Live', which represented a superb journey through the power of classic formulas all pulled off with his own unique twist, the flows between rhythms dynamic as hell and the balances in sound pulled off so expertly. The record was very much made for the dance, its overall vibe and aesthetic designed to worm its way into your feet and move your body, with the on top keys crafted to move your mind into new realms. It was a superb debut, and just continued to further Corni's credentials as a producer to keep an eye on. His deft blend of rhythm, paired with an eye for beautiful melodies that only add to the story, keeps us on our toes and firmly in the grip of the music's directions and objectives. As a formula, it works brilliantly, allowing itself to be constantly reconsidered and reworked as the narrative Corni looks to develop with his music gets made all the more sweeter with every new release.
So now we arrive at his latest offering, his second EP as Raoul, 'RJWM'. With this new release, we see Raoul expand his world by a country mile, as we begin to witness this beautiful expanse that comes with the joyous celebration of the power of the drum machine. The music within contains all these beautiful progressions and expressions, where we become wrapped within a sea of undulating melodies and infectious drumming patterns, music that warms the soul and delights the heart at every turn. For those who wish to see the unlimited potential of organic musical production, you need look no further than this little masterclass. So, without further delay, lets get into this.
We open things up with 'Blaxploitation Sauce', and we dive right into it. The beat structure sings as loud as possible, the beautifully placed cymbals and kicks allowing the snares and toms to move with such grace and energy. The switch up occurs a few bars in, the hi hat moving right through the middle, which signals the bass line to begin moving and grooving into the heart of it all. The vocal snippet floats above the sea of beats, its presence helping to contextualise proceedings, and this then sees the chords begin to float into the track, which signals the beginning of a superbly conceived melodic progression. The pads move high above, delicately moving around in the deep evening sky, before they drop out again to give the vocal line some space. Before long though, the chords come back into view, with some additional lines on top that give over such a vibe. The chordal work and percussive structures now have this real synergy about them, their alignment and tone creating such a soft and caressing experience. The manner in which the track moves through the lines put you in this truly hypnotic state, our minds put at ease within this sea of gorgeous tones and gradually ethereal textures. Class. Up next comes 'X-Raymond', and we begin in familiar surroundings. The beats are pure and clean, a proper foundation based on groove and motion. The bass line then joins the sequence, its presence moving within the lines with serve and grace, with the chords beginning to shine through in the backdrop. The manner in which they flicker on top of the drums creates a powerful dynamic, their presence never taking over but merely complimenting the always evolving drumming lines underneath. Its a world that keeps on taking us by the hand and inviting us deep into its world, one filled to the brim with vibrancy and interactivity. Superb.
Next comes 'Hardware Madness', and once more we are welcomed by the rhythmic richness that has characterised the record so far. If the openers were more lush deep house orientated, these next two focus more on the club. The drums feel more up tempo, with faster fuller lines interwoven with one another to create a rich and vastly expanding universe. The bass line rapidly catches up with the beat, as it moves once more into the middle of the evolving structure. The beat then recedes to allow the piano line to move into view, and its a groover for sure. The chords hit fast and true, their loop set on a high tempo, as the drums re-orienate themselves to match their intensity. The swirling harmonic layers begin to take root as pads softly chime in the backdrop, creating further depth to a track already rich in beat and groove. To finish up, we have 'Edit Sucks', and the drums set the tone once more. The drums remain more spaced out on this one, allowing for a full as hell bass line to slide into view, and this relationship carries over so damn well. The cymbals move into view, acting as a super transitional element which moves the song into some very exciting places indeed, with the chuggy key line moving into view from beneath. In full flow, its quite something, its intense and deeply impressive sound whipping us right up into a frenzy that never seems like its going to slow down. Its certainly one of those tracks that could last a lifetime, its character and flavour so rich and invigorating, its vibe consistent with that of the very finest deep house tracks. A great ender, one final flash of energy before the end of the night.
The music contained here has a lot to say, and that all comes down to the approaches made by Raoul in regards to progression and overall sound. The use of hardware to craft these tunes gives them this beautiful appeal, one where intuitiveness becomes a key element in the sound, the organic feel coming across in such a delfithful way. The manner in which the drums constantly shift their appearance and tempo, their complexities allowing the synths and chords on top to move between different plains of existence. Its that relationship which is what makes this EP very special indeed, and if you wish to delve into what proper house can sound like, then this is the album for you. A real gem.
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