Pictures on Silence
This rich and inspired R&B mixtape comes from an unsuspecting and prolific producer. 20-year-old Atu, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is putting out "the sound of tomorrow" on this release, fusing together bass and soul music with elegant vocal samples.
Pictures of Silence is a round-trip excursion into a world of samples, unique time signatures, and experiments into swelling sound and silence. The hip hop beats draped beautifully in organs and synths play behind the vocal sampling, chosen more for their interesting melodies than words and used more so as another instrument. The songs are sharp but with a very nice flow and the gap between each is quickly traversed, offering a continuous stream of tasty beats.
The rise and fall within each track is breathtaking. Beats build, break, and rebuild so smoothly that you're left wanting more and more. The moments of tension are broken and then stolen right back. Atu brilliantly constructs his songs upon a few basic blocks, and then creates a whirl wind of symphonic justice that sweeps you far away.
I wouldn't say that he has broken no ground with this release, but he definitely puts these songs together with the finesse and an ear for brilliant detail that many seem to lack.
Also, proceeds from this record will go to help the EveryChild foundation to provide assistance in Atu's native Malawi.
The City and Horses
The City and Horses' newest LP, Strange Range, touches on many aspects of the indie pop spectrum. Ranging from lofi-folk to power and chamber pop, and to synth music. It's a very vast collection, and a very intriguing listen.
Lead by a children's television producer, the band is quirky, fun, and upbeat. Their music is full of feel good rhythms and rich, addicting hooks. They lay down some irresistible tracks with sharp percussion, smooth lyrics, and idiosyncratic instrumentation. With a familiar vintage sound, the songwriting tackles subjects ranging from "the sadomasochism of anxiety disorders, the real or imagined simplicity of the 1990's and loving loveless relationships." I find the differences between the gleeful music and the mature and somewhat 'everyday mundane' themes to be a perfect juxtaposition.
Strange Range weaves gently and simply in and out of many different realms. The music switches between calming and hyper without warning but always offers itself in an honest and feel good manner. Some sounds and aspects are very unexpected, which makes the record a very great listen and a pleasure to explore. I found all of the tracks to be beautifully composed and perfectly balanced, complimenting each other in the strangest of ways.
I think it's safe to say that Strange Range is one of my favorite records of the year so far and the accolades of positive press from many radio stations and publications would agree with me.