On her new project Rosie From the Block, singer and producer Roselien Tobbackx continues to entice with a jaw dropping blend of broken beat, vocally intuitive blemishes and a series of messages that do much to engage the mind.
When rhythm and vocals combine in the most intuitive of manners, then it really does a number on the body and soul, a feeling that is as two fold as it is intensely direct. A relationship that has been explored, it seems, to its absolute totality throughout music's long and varied history, but there's always a surprise round the corner from within the discographies of those who practise the artform. This is because the voice is so malleable, a force of nature that can be shaped and bent into place, its form free flowing and powerful, providing a top end experience that works intensely to achieve some very special results. The distinctive character of the person behind it all rises to the top within the music, their expressionism shining forth as something to become deeply involved within, a slide through everything that feels and remains meaningful, and as a journey its something to hold on to. Not content to sit still and rest on a relationship that works, these kinds of artists always seem to craft a new template to work with, be it the density of the instrumentation or the style, and perhaps most importantly its the application of their voice that shines through. The voice is an instrument that many have mastered but it always has a unique way of portraying itself, and this notion is a reflection of the person behind it all, and how they look to find a bedrock as a means of expressing themselves. Jumping from release to release is joyous as a result, our minds finding the time to groove between the layers, the tones and layers placing themselves in amongst the seas that bind us to the overarching flows. Not for one moment do we feel like the message isn't being portrayed, but instead it sends us on a journey that captures the imagination, its feelings and messages something we can all relate to. Everything that burns inside comes to the fore, our souls set alight with passion and possibility, awaiting the next stanza of perfected harmonies that look to take us away into the next phase of being.
If there was ever an artist to embody all of these notions, Roselien Tobbackx would be right at the top, with her work as Roselien combining the best instrumental elements of R'n'B, broken beat and jazzy soul with her unbelievable vocal work, which remains the key focal point around which some inspired melodies and rhythms are crafted. Her music to date feels very much a forward thinking affair, with a plethora of carefully balanced tones swirling around a series of pulsating rhythms which chime along to the infectiousness of the melodies, as her voice plays the part of conductor, instructing the switches in tempo and intensity with such vibrancy. To fall into the music is to fall into that part of you that embraces delight and emotion, a space where the narrative being conveyed sits right at the forefront, but when you dive underneath there's plenty to get to know and celebrate. With each release we saw Roselien tinker with her formula, with the overall style shifting ever so slightly which helps provide a deeply intriguing sense of progression within her music, its point of reference always on the move, searching for that perfected blend of soul and rhythm. This continual shifting always seems purposeful though, and it has led to the creation of a discography that is bountiful in terms of feel, with so many variations of style on display for us to get deeply involved within. The instrumental work is inspired, the vocal performances always top notch, and the blend of the two is such a delight to get to know, with each track unravelling in the most surprising of manners, with plenty of transitional features found within each cut that keeps the listener very much on their toes. Sultry, silky smooth and with plenty of heart, its contemporary music at its very finest, a combination of varying strains that create a vibe we can all fall in love with (or fall in love to). All of her work under the Roselien name is worth a mention, starting off with the wonderful 'Truth' EP, her debut as Roselien, which came out in 2015; the singles 'He's Fearless' and 'I Had A Dream', which both landed in 2017 and showcased her emerging audial diversity; the excellent 'Loving' track from 2018, which was released alongside Amoachille - check the Kaidi Tatham remix also!; the beautiful, swinging 'Not My Fantasy' and 'Give Me a Break' singles, which arrived last year; and finally, the wondrous 'Seventh Ascension' EP, which also came out last year, and is perhaps her most impressive display to date. In all, Roselien's music to date has been an impressive saunter through all things groovy, melodic and vocal heavy, with plenty of variations on the theme that keep the waves lapping on the beach, the sun shining in the sky and the cool breeze enveloping us in the early morning light. Her music gives over a certain kind of audial nourishment, music that feeds the soul with its colourful appearance and its unreal level of depth, with plenty of layers found within that make repeat listening a must. We highly recommend you going back and checking out her previous works, they're all pretty excellent.
And now we arrive at her latest offering, 'Love Potions for Block Parties', the debut EP from her new alias Rosie From the Block, with the record landing on the ever impressive Vice City imprint. Right from the off there is a special feeling in the air, with the rhythms arriving to take their placement on centre stage, and what follows is a highly charged and beautifully arranged melodic display that chimes along to the pulse of life itself, the music staying close to the ground but capturing feelings of warmth and invisible energies perfectly. Unlike with her work as Roselien, where the vocals are placed right at the front, with Rosie her voice is more subtle in its placement, feeling its way amongst the drums and keys in a instrument leaning role, but its by no means any less impactful. The decision to do this makes for a wonderfully contiguous experience, with all the spaces within the track filled with something gorgeous and meaningful, the key work in particular leaving a lasting impression whilst the drums are something else. As a debut EP under a new name, its incredibly exciting, and leaves us wondering just how far Rosie can explore this block of hers - and on that note, lets dive right into this life affirming, melody laden masterclass.......
Up first comes 'Let Me Be', which begins with the choppy drums to get things going, with the track looking to empower women who are harassed on the streets. The spaces between the kicks and snares remain there for the taking, and this is exactly what occurs as a bountiful chord progression slides into view, filling up the voids alongside some inspired looping vocal snippets, all of which do much to create a deeply engaging experience. The vocals grow from the loops and into a full blown spoken affair, with little chiming sequences adding much to the progression, and at the end of this segment things are taken down low to provide a platform for the bass to find its way into the world. The stab like chords then come to the fore, with the vocals switching their form, and before long the drums return to lift our spirits once more, with plenty of inspired melodic blemishes making their way across the top ends. The overall blend is intoxicating, nurturing the spirit with so much meaning and feel, with the final segment adding all the elements from before into an incredibly balanced section that really does leave a lasting impression. One for the story books, this cut. 'No Matter What' arrives soon after, and here the drums once again lead the way. The groove shifts the perspective ever so slightly, the energy a little bit more heavy and the rhythm ever so slightly more energetic, with a Street Soul kind of energy beginning to emerge with the light melodic touches that come to the front. The vocals slide into view and before long they are accompanied by the delightful piano work, which plays along to the flutters of the heart with a surprising and delightful energy, as our hearts are lifted up for the ride. The shift into the vocal heavy sections are an exercise in pure joy, our eyes meeting on that hot summers day, ever keen to smile as we float forwards and upwards, powered by the warmth that exudes from this track. The music takes a second dip in energy that reveals a spoken word segment, which adds narrative flavour, and this delivery is carefully balanced with the music that begins to built up around the progression, and we are all for it. Beautiful stuff.
To wrap things up, we have 'You Are Loved', and this one starts off with the free flowing drums to get us going. A single key line cascades down amongst the groove to provide some melodic levels, and before long this is joined by the beautiful chord placement and vocal delivery, which sets the stage before Roselien's words begin to be sung in the most enchanting of ways. Her presence accommodates the mid range level of the track perfectly, its placement leading directly into the glorious chorus section impeccably, which sees all manner of melodic excellence abound with such energy and purpose. The keys remain in place for the next few movements, with further layers added that inject so much life into the mix, and before we get overloaded with beauty the track takes a dip, but it doesn't remain down there for long. The drums return swiftly, with the melodic elements dropping out in order to provide some space to the rhythm, with the keys allowed to carefully return to the fold, with the build up to the climax so very satisfying indeed. Roselien takes the time to leave us with one final narrative, a final reminder of just how brilliant this record has been to engage with and get to know, and we are left with an experience to cherish for a long time yet. A perfected blend of groove, key work and vocals, all mixed together and expertly delivered, there's so much here to fall in love with.
When vocals and instruments come together in such succulent ways, then its hard to distinguish the layers, such is the application that means everything just flows so organically. Roselien's work under her own name was always a playful and highly dynamic affair, blending all manner of influences and distilling them down into a melange of simmering beats and melodic sequences. Her new name, Rosie from the Block, builds upon this highly adaptable formula and re-writes the rules very successfully, with the introduction to the record giving over so much as to how the rest would follow. What was a surprise is how Roselien reorganised her deck within each of the three tracks, with differing sequences taking centre stage throughout that constantly shifted the listener's perspective, allowing for maximum engagement with the beautiful tones and expertly crafted rhythms. There's so much to get to know with this little masterclass, so why not saunter down the block, when the sun is shining obviously, and skip along to this soundtrack - it chimes along to everything so perfectly.
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