Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Twae Left Feet - "Guess Into Frank's Reel" Single

Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that lead to great things. Such was the case in 2012 when Galen Fraser and Scott Burns, after a late night St. Andrew's Day celebration of whiskey and song, decided to form the band simply known as Twae Left Feet. The Boston-based duo have spent the better part of a year refining their traditional Celtic sound, honing a mixture of classic Irish and Scottish tunes infused with their own bit of flair. While in the process of working on their first full-length album, the band can be found just about every week playing somewhere in the city, Fraser shining on fiddle while Burns keeps time on Bodhrán, leading the crowds through rousing traditional ballads and drinking songs.

One of their latest efforts is a track entitled "Guess Into Frank's Reel," inspired by a moment of reminiscence as the two men sat and recalled their time spent on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. They longingly remembered their time on the beach, watching as the waves crashed to the shore, and were inspired to write the first part of the medley, "Guess." Fraser's fiddle leads through the initial strains of the song, Burns' drumming maintaining a sound pace, and it sets an appropriately reflective tone. There's a sense of longing and warmth to the track that quickly gives way to fun and passion as they segue into the second half of the medley, performing the traditional Scottish tune, "Frank's Reel." The tempo is furiously frenetic and one cannot help but get the toes to tapping as the duo crafts a beautiful sound.
Twae Left Feet manage to do three things on "Guess Into Frank's Reel" which are particularly impressive. First, they showcase their ability to deliver classic material in a faithful manner, carefully reconstructing the time-honored "Frank's Reel" with clear respect and reverence for the source material and do so with gusto. They then manage to deliver their own signature composition in "Guess," featuring an arrangement that, if one didn't know, could easily be thought of as traditional material in and of itself, showing a keen sensibility for song craft, bridging the old with the new. Finally, they perform not only with musical excellence, their musicianship easily on par with fellow Celtic bands like Gaelic Storm, but with strong emotion as well, their performances inviting listeners into the music.
But the duo’s ultimate feat is that they leave listeners wanting more, and that’s the best compliment anyone could pay.

Review: Tristan Eckerson - Dance Craze EP

If you haven't noticed, the winds of change continue to blow strong in the world of music. While before, an artist seeking to create something full in scope needed to be backed by a band or an orchestra, they now have the wonders of technology before them that allow unprecedented access into new musical realms. Add to that the fact that many of those artists, such as Avicii and David Guetta, are taking those breakthroughs and combining them with compelling, and danceable rhythms, giving the electronic dance music (EDM) genre a fresh burst of life. Now, rising artist Tristan Eckerson is set to toss his hat into the ring with his debut EP, appropriately titled Dance Craze.
Eckerson is a classically trained pianist who had played in bands of multiple genres, trying his hand at jazz, blues, and funk as well as punk and pop. Artistic restlessness kept him moving to and fro, trying new musical textures here and there but the one constant was his desire to get people moving. And when he enrolled in a Master's program for Music Production and Sound Design for visual media, he became enthralled with the world of electronic dance music.
"I had spent my entire life playing keyboards and writing music with a pencil and paper, and suddenly I was introduced to this crazy world of electronic music production, and suddenly I could write for an entire orchestra! It changed everything for me," he shares.
Inspired, Eckerson set out to harness those newfound production skills, combining his love of the Dance music genre together with his eclectic musical past, classical and modern flair coming together in an infectious and energetic mixture. And it's done so in a way that is fully intentional.
 "Having spent most of my life playing keyboards in bands and listening to all kinds of Dance Music, it wasn't until after college that I really started to get into Electronic Music at all," Eckerson offers. "Once I did, I got hooked, and then when I learned how to produce music electronically, it was all over for me. Ever since then I've been on a mission to create Electronic Dance Music that's full of energy and is danceable, but at the same time is filled with musicality. I want to create Electronic Dance Music that is accessible to people that don't necessarily like EDM. There is so much "Dance Music" out there, created in different ways, from all over the world. I want to broaden the sense of what Electronic Dance Music really is, and incorporate more original ideas, influences, and emotions into my songs."
It’s that vision that fuels the three tracks that make up the whole of Dance Craze. Eckerson kicks things off with the throbbing pulse of “Life,” carefully adding various textures and layers that ebb and flow, highlighting them with digitized vocal elements that bring some added nuance to the proceedings. It’s relentless pace brings listeners into a trance of sorts while the title track builds an accessible bridge into a full on dance mode. Boasting bright synth tones, vocal harmonies, and an infectious groove, its tailor made for the club and is easily the highlight of the three. Lastly, with “POLY,” Eckerson lets his diversity shine, bringing Afro and Latin swagger to his beats and constructing a template of Moombahton-meets-House-and-Techno that is uniquely compelling. There’s a frenetic build to the track, raging guitar pressing the song to a bloodlust of sorts that carries a theatrical tone and ends things on an interesting note.
It’s somewhat difficult to judge an artist’s overall creativity and potential in just three songs but, with these three on the Dance Craze EP, Tristan Eckerson makes a strong case for his future. And while the jury is still out on the overall accessibility of these tunes, those who do enjoy a healthy dose of EDM in their listening diet will find plenty to move to here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Painted on Water - Chicago Issue EP

When one typically thinks of music with a Turkish influence, you rarely consider elements of rock, electronica, or even R&B soul to play a role. Yet, when longtime collaborators and lovers Demir Demirkan and Sertab Erener, musically known as Painted On Water, made way for Chicago on the next leg of their musical journey, there was no telling what would happen.

The result is the Turkish-based duo’s latest work, the Chicago Issue EP. Following on the heels on the duo’s prior work which saw them channeling elements of Turkish folk together with jazz, rock, and electronica, the Chicago Issue EP finds the tandem taking a new approach.
“For this album, I wanted to change the way we collaborate, change all the methods we use to compose, and come up with new production techniques,” says composer/guitarist/producer Demirkan. “It’s been really liberating.”

That liberation, in large part, involves Painted on Water tapping into the roots of their new home in Chicago and plugging in their guitars for some big, rocking sounds.
“When I Need You Most” gets things rolling with Demirkan showcasing some Peter Frampton like guitar effects alongside some solid synth fills and kicking beats. Erener’s vocals are solid if the lyric is a bit less than inspiring. Still, it’s a strong start, bringing plenty of textures to bear on the opening track.

Painted On Water draws from their Chicago surroundings on “A New Me,” showing off some hints of funk and R&B with jangling guitars and soulful background vocals. It’s a chunky arrangement, letting the track build smoothly through the verse and bump during the chorus and is somewhat reminiscent of work by No Doubt and Gwen Stefani with its pop-flavored elements.
Yet, it’s on “Hating You Loving You” that the band truly hits their finest of strides. Erener’s vocals are at their strongest, rich and resonant as she sings over Demirkan’s perfectly rocking guitar work, ebbing and flowing at exactly the right moments and drawing plenty of emotion into the equation. The lyric is equally strong as Erener pleads, “You’re my addiction I can’t do without/Hungry for you I keep/Hating you loving you/A blind ambition I can’t see without/Leaving you, missing you/I keep hating you, loving you.” It’s clearly the highlight of the EP.

“Why Do You Love Me” draws from more of those pop-rock elements, finding a solid balance between the two, enhanced by some solid keyboards that complement the restless guitars and emotive vocals as much of the lyric draws from none other than the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. An insistent keyboard tone opens up closing track, “Despite Ourselves,” pressing Erener’s vocals along as the track builds, joined by synth and eclectic percussion before emerging into a full-fledged jam as Demirkan plugs in and rocks out. It’s the perfect high-tempo conclusion to the Chicago Issue EP.
And on that EP, Painted On Water do a great job of landing on U.S. soil with their artistic guns blazing, conjuring up a sonic soundscape that brings rock, pop, and soul all together in a signature package. While hints of artists like No Doubt, Dave Gahan, and Evanescence are there, this sound is distinctly Painted on Water’s and it will no doubt leave listeners ready for more.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Slack Armada - Slack Armada

So oftentimes the story of an artist’s journey is fraught with pain and suffering. They’ve found themselves at the bottom and, needing an outlet to express their deep emotions, they turn to music and create stirring works that move the soul.

And then there’s James Hrabak of Slack Armada.
For fifteen years, Hrabak didn’t play any music, content with his life of domesticity, happy in a fulfilling job and at home. Yet, the chance mail delivery of a music instruments catalog would change the rising artist’s perspective and he found his creative spirit reawakened.

“There was an aligning of the planets,” the Chicago-based composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist says with a chuckle. “My personal life was becoming less hectic and I had time to dedicate to music, so I looked into recording software and pulled the guitar out of the closet to see what I could do.”
The result is the four song, self-titled debut from Slack Armada, an instrumental collection that recalls acts like Four Tet, Mogwai, and Boards of Canada while seeing Hrabak infuse his own creative juices into the process. It’s something of a cinematic experience once you get into it and the artist wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Not using vocals wasn’t a conscious decision at the beginning,” Hrabak explains. “As I was building up the tracks, I thought ‘Maybe I can make the music speak to somebody without that additional guide of a human voice.’ I wanted to let the listener be transported with fewer guideposts.”
By and large, it’s an experiment that works.

Hrabak gets things started with the tightly programmed beats and synth fills of “Rebirth.” It’s a slightly ethereal and ambient track initially, the thrumming beats the only real texture against subtle keyboards but garners some much needed emotion when crunchy electric guitars close in later on. The track pauses for just a moment and there is a moment of rebirth, so to speak, as the sound transforms, a new beat holding sway as airy synth again swells through the arrangement.
“Your Majesty” delivers a little more emotion to the proceedings right from the get-go, multilayered sonic textures melding together and creating a sense of suspense and intrigue, the swirling keyboards stepping forth although Hrabak’s synth fills seem a little out of place here until bright bell tones enter the fray and serve as a connecting point, moving the track from intrigue to a sense of wonder. It’s not for long though as the track ebbs and flows between the two emotions before “Looper” steps in with its raucous tones. More crunchy guitar and heavy, pounding drums give the album a rocking lift, the relentless press Hrabak’s composition only lightening toward the end, the guitars giving way to electronic distortion.

"Escape Velocity” closes things out and, as one might expect from the title, is another action-packed track. Throbbing, pulsing electronic beats open things up before more conventional percussion joins in, the sound building and pressing in upon the listener’s ears, guitars eventually finding their way into the mix to provide the melody line, rich and inviting before abruptly coming to a complete close.
James Hrabak’s debut, Slack Armada, is a compelling piece of work for fans of more cerebral and ambient soundtracks. Blending elements of electronica together with dramatic flair, he has crafted four compelling songs that, while perhaps not set to appeal to the masses, will definitely provide enjoyment for those willing to listen. And with the promise of a vocal project coming as well, the future is bright for this rising star.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review: Cookie Rabinowitz - Four Eyed Soul

The old adage holds that you can’t judge a book by its cover and, in the case of rising artist Cookie Rabinowitz, that’s doubly true. For, if you were to just glance at Rabinowitz with music in mind, you might be tempted to see his hipster jeans, oversized pimp glasses, and kicking Vans and label him as some sort of electronica wizard. Yet, one listen to the artist’s debut, Four Eyed Soul, and listeners will realize that this is a singer who’s a little less Moby and a lot more Marvin Gaye.

But Rabinowitz didn’t start in the world of soul, R&B, and hip-hop. Rather, the eclectic artist began his journey as “an introspective folk singer with reclusive tendencies.” Yet, when finances became an issue, the artist found himself working at a gentlemen’s club as a DJ where he became entranced with the beat-heavy music and swarthy hooks, drawing him into a new creative space.

Along that journey, Rabinowitz came alongside hip-hop pioneer Schoolly D who helped to mentor the young artist. The tandem worked together with guitarist Erik Horvitz on the animated urban music interview show, The Cookie Rabinowitz Show, which later led to Rabinowitz heading out with Schoolly D and a plethora of other rappers, with Public Enemy among them, on a tour that would change the artist’s trajectory forever.

“The hip-hop community really embraced me. It was eye opening. Schoolly let me do my thing and shine – I was able to sing and play guitar at 3,000 capacity venues,” he recalls. “That inspired me to dive into that world.”
That inspiration and the artist’s creativity collide in full harmony on Four Eyed Soul, a term the artist coined to describe his blend of sounds which borrows the best of the old while bringing it firmly into the future with swells of hip-hop, soul, R&B, as well as rock. And backed by some of Philly’s finest, Rabinowitz steps out and makes some lovely music.

“Sing Alone, Sing Along” gets things off to a killer start, a smooth, funky groove carrying forth the artist’s silky vocals, complete with playful falsetto while he offers up introspective thoughts about the lack of disconnect in a digital age. A rich guitar solo provides some additional color while “Crakka Smile” employs some sweet keyboards and more falsetto to hammer home its message.
“Every St.” lets Rabinowitz’s hip-hop side out a bit, his lyrical flow solid while the arrangement draws from a multiplicity of ranges and is followed by “Life on Mars,” carrying similar tones complete with some sampling and vinyl scratches, providing some bonus texture. Rich funk steps to the forefront on “Pass You By,” vintage guitar effects in use alongside thumping bass notes and bright keyboards while “Text You With My Mouth” lets a persistent beat carry the load as the artist again implicates the age of social media.

“Get Yer Own” is a beat-centric hip-hop jam, a collection of sonic textures merging together while “Blue” hearkens back to 70s soul for a commentary on racial tension. A bit of alternative rock makes its way into the set list with “Underground,” the programmed beats melding with raw guitars and Rabinowitz’s nuanced vocals as “Self Loathing” and “Rock & Roll Karaoke” again bridge the gap between soul, R&B, and hip-hop, the artist again breaking out his falsetto for the high notes.
“More Tired Than Lonely” is an album highlight, solo guitar opening things up as the artist sings of his reluctance to enter into a relationship due to the finger-pointing and baggage he’s experienced, “too tired to take the blame, too tired to hear you told me.” It’s a smooth, simple groove that carries the lyric well and definitely stands out while “Talking to Pigeons” closes things out in fine fashion, another mash up of genres flowing together in sweet success.

Cookie Rabinowitz might not be what you’d expect when you first see him but after you hear him you wouldn’t want anything else. Bridging the gap between multiple urban genres and infusing his own introspective folk leanings, the artist successfully crafts tracks that carry their own sense of soul for a new generation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Aradia - Possibilities: Light EP

Some artists come into their musical lives unexpectedly, discovering their talent and love for the craft later in life. Others, like up and coming artist Aradia, are simply born into it.

Aradia was born in metropolitan New York City to a musician/musical therapist and a ballet dancer. With music in her blood, she took to playing the piano at the age of three, flute at eight and guitar at fourteen while constantly honing her voice in any which way should could. She eventually enrolled in the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College but became disenchanted with the unexpected politics of the classical music world and turned to the world of rock for a new muse.
That turn led her to a gig with Some Band, performing at legendary venues like The Bitter End and The Wetlands before she eventually headed to Atlanta by way of Los Angeles with her longtime collaborator and musical mentor Wirth Lawson. There the two formed Twelfth Planet and rocked the Atlanta clubs for nearly three years, garnering the artist some much needed seasoning and experience, finding her ready and prepared for a solo career as the band came to an end.

With a full length album and an EP under her belt, the artist now calls Seattle home and mines that experience for material on her latest offering, the Possibilities: Light EP. The album is a set of six colorful tracks arrayed in pop, rock, and electronica sounds, blending a sense of 1980’s nu-wave sensibilities together with eclectic, modern vibes recalling artists like Blondie, Lady Gaga, and Bjork.
Aradia gets things off to a start with the synth pop fills of “The Light,” her vocals stark against an electronica background of sound that eventually fleshes out into something full and nuanced. It’s not the most accessible of tracks and, in that respect, will get things off to a rough start for some listeners yet “Trouble” will right that wrong quickly. A driving programming line provides an old school element while raging guitars and swelling vocals buoy the track to a new place, the layers of sound creating something that is definitely unique and interesting.

“Today” finds the artist working through a minor chord feeling jam as she lyrically deals with the danger of seizing the day, singing, “I thought I saw myself today/I asked her to come out and play/I traveled to another time/So I could make the moment mine.” In addition to the obvious electronica elements, there’s something of an indie vibe to the track as well, largely due to Aradia’s vocal delivery, that gives the track extra life as well while “On Fire,” with crunchy electronic elements and a rocking beat stands as the most accessible and danceable track here. Reminiscent of Lady Gaga and Madonna, the artist rocks through lyrics that outline her journey of coming to a sense of freedom, her vocals showcasing that with their emotional flair and are undergirded by the powerful arrangement.
“Slow Ur Roll” is something of a disappointment, the electro-pop blips and beeps well performed but ultimately uninspiring. Thankfully, “Keep On” closes things out with a track that will find listeners wanting to keep on listening. Colored with playful Middle Eastern flair, the artist brings the old together with the new, Sitar meeting with programmed percussion and more while her vocal ebbs and flows, showing solid strength on a solidly creative closer.

Aradia is an artist that, by her very nature, will not be embraced by all. Yet, for those with more eclectic tastes and adventurous spirits, the Possibilities: Light EP has plenty to draw their interest. The artist draws from a diverse palette and paints with broad, compelling strokes, crafting a set of songs that are eclectic, imaginative, and compelling.

Review: Steven James Wylie - Everything I Love EP

Sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom before you can start heading for the top again. That’s just what up and coming artist Steven James Wylie realized when he found himself and his expectant wife living in his parent’s basement after his real estate development company crashed and took his financial security and material possessions along with it.

“It was a brutally painful season, but as time went on I began to realize it was an opportunity. It was actually one of the greatest things to ever happen to me,” he shares. “Before that, I felt like I was 65 and my life was over, but after the dust settled, I reconnected with music and felt reborn.”
That rebirth found the artist pulling from two uniquely diverse influences. The first influence was that of his Spokane, Washington upbringing, where he grew up heavily influenced by the alt-rock Seattle sound. The second influence came as Wylie found himself unemployed and fallen, watching television and, interestingly enough, finding his creativity stoked once again by watching country music videos. With the juices flowing, Wylie took action and has since released three LP’s, one EP, and various singles and is set to make an impact with his latest work, Everything I Love.

Everything I Love definitely showcases the artist at his best as he performs five songs that cull from those differing elements while letting Wylie add healthy doses of his own creativity as well. The template holds stronger toward the pop country side, the alt rock taking a back seat this time but the number one star here is Wylie himself as he sings through well-crafted lyrics with his soulfully textured voice.
The EP opens up with the smooth, acoustic country strains of the title track, Wylie singing of a simple life enriched by intangible blessings, sharing, “These are the things that you can’t take away/The simple joys of living/That God gave me today/You can take the house and take the car/I’ll be okay/These are the things that you can’t take away.” It’s a warm and heartfelt start that gets the record off to a strong start.

Wylie puts his faith front and center on “This Is What Faith Is,” offering up an acoustic pop rock jam with some welcome guest vocals from CCM veteran, Christine Dente, who gives the track an additional lift while “Flower” draws some big, organic percussion together with piano and acoustic guitar as the artist sings lyrics of encouragement and love.
“Butterfly” is an upbeat lullaby of sorts, Wylie singing to his baby daughter over against a bright, mid-tempo pop background with rich guitar fills and tight melodies, the artist’s vocals warm and resonant. Those vocals continue to shine on album closer “Beautiful Souls,” Wylie’s voice recalling elements of Chris Daughtry as he sings the soulful lyrics, “Family ties can never break/And that explains all of the heartache/Here today then say goodbye/I will keep your legacy/God knows I will try.”

Losing his real estate business may have been the best thing to have happened to Steven James Wylie. The artist has emerged from his difficult season, buoyed not only by God-given talent but also a renewed purpose in his craft. His work on Everything I Love speaks of hard work, dedication, and honesty while capturing a warm and creative essence as he encourages listeners going through hard times. It’s one that’s well worth a listen or three.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: Cole Hermer and The Ravens - Quoth the Raven EP

Sometimes it’s the most innocuous of things that can have the most surprising impacts in life. For instance, consider the story of Cole Hermer. Raised on a diet of classic rock artists like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, juxtaposed against an alternate soundscape of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Simon and Garfunkel. When a writing disability led his mother to purchase the ten year old a guitar to practice with in hopes that it would help with his dexterity issues, the experiment failed. What didn’t fail, however, was the budding artist’s love for music and by seventh grade he’d penned his first original song.

That love continued to grow and develop, Hermer voraciously devouring music wherever he could find it, exploring metal, progressive rock, and more. High school found the growing artist engaging with groups like Mumford and Sons, The White Stripes, and The Black Keys, those formative bands helping to hone Hermer’s evolving sound.

It was another chance encounter that led to Hermer’s latest adventure, the recording of his first EP, Quoth the Raven.

“My philosophy is take every chance you get because it will lead you to an interesting place. I got cast in this reality show about musicians in the Durham region, and that’s where I met Michael (Hanson),” he shares. “He is a big deal; the well-known songwriter-drummer of Glass Tiger. He heard me work with this music group on the show and liked my voice. Out of the blue he offered me the chance to do an EP.”

The EP captures a formative point within the young artist’s creative development, finding him move beyond the straight metal angst of so many teenage artists and segue into a set of five songs that capture elements of classic, garage, and folk rock, among many others.

Speaking of the EP’s diversity, Hermer offers, ““As I was recording, my music tastes were growing so much, the EP reflects that diversity.”

“California Breakdown” opens up the record with a rich tapestry of roaring garage rock, raging guitars and relentless percussion holding sway as Hermer unleashes his passionate vocals, conjuring images of Jack White and Robert Plant. The track oozes emotion and has a free flowing vibe going for it but, a closer listen seems to hint that the arrangement is actually much more rehearsed and tightly woven than it appears.

“Exploitable Youth” follows hard after, big crunchy blues rock guitars setting the table for Hermer’s indictment upon the treatment and experience of so many young performers in the music industry who are used and chewed up by the machine. With serious vocal chops he sings, “Hey kids do you want to be the star of the season?/Into the abyss where mom and dad make every decision/Burn your salvation when you’ve got nothing to lose/And follow blindly till they find someone new.”

Hermer takes his sound in an unexpected direction on the subdued platform of “Friends,” maintaining those blues rock elements throughout a quieter template that really let his lyrics and vocals shine. He brings in some playful background harmonies that provide a glossy sheen against his raspy lead vocal, offering up a solid contrast before bridging into the acoustic driven folk rock, “Maybe In the Morning,” co-written with producer Hanson. Album closer “Teenage Creed” finds the artist coming full circle, more bluesy garage rock taking center stage as the artist spits out lyrics with a sneer and a snarl, ending things on a high note.

While some of Cole Hermer’s opportunities have come by way of the classic “right time, right place” concept, the artist has not let those opportunities lay dormant, working hard to build his art and on Quoth the Raven, Cole Hermer and The Ravens stand up and stand out, showing why they’re worthy of a listen. Passionate, youthful, and energetic yet intelligent and skilled as well, this is a band to watch.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Review: BluRum13 - Inverted

New York born, Maryland raised James Sobers has already led a celebrated career. Better known to his fans as BluRum13, Sobers has dazzled crowds with his emcee skills and won peers over with his production talents, crafting two solo albums, rocking the house in over one thousand shows, and working with a plethora of artists ranging from Us3, One Self, Reverse Engineering, Bullfrog, the Russian Percussion, and many, many more. His music has been featured in Cirque du Soleil, CSI, The Family Biz (Canada), and Skins (UK) and he’s had the chance to share the stage with high-caliber artists like Maceo Parker, Herbie Hancock, Phish, KRS1, Public Enemy, and De la Soul.

Exhilarated but weary from his meteoric rise, Sobers made the decision to take some time off and recharge his creative batteries in order to gear up for the new solo album that fans had been clamoring for. That break found the artist culling through the “evolutionary philosophies in Zecharia Sitchin’s The 12th Planet and in the writings and teachings of Lloyd Pye. It’s definitely unique source material (Sitchin and Pye both advocate for the ideas of an extraterrestrial ancestor to mankind) yet it had a profound effect on the already introspective and academic lyricist.
“I learned the thing we have in common with the Creator is the ability to create. So I began looking inward and creating for myself,” he shares of the lessons learned. “Honesty is translatable. I’ve played many non-English-speaking countries where the venue is packed because the crowd gets ‘it,’ even if they don’t fully understand the language.”

That musical honesty and heady focus comes forth loud and proud on the artist’s highly anticipated Inverted, finding Sobers bringing a mélange of textures together with insightful and intelligent flows. Drawing comparisons to artists like Mos Def and Ben Harper and rightly so, Sobers puts all that studying and creative growth to good use, showing the results of his inspiration and experimentation with drum and bass and electronica.
“Kenetic” brings things to a killer start, smooth and rich keyboards setting the stage for Sobers’ tight and fluid rhymes, moving to the chorus point of “We are more than potential” while electronic fills and scratches round out the track, lending energy. “TLO” offers heavy percussion and a Maori-flavored chant, Sobers’ spitting his lyrics frantically while undergirded by a tight bass line underneath as “Strivin’” delivers a lazy, almost dreamy arrangement alongside guest vocals from Abstract Rude.

“Cereal” is another laid back track, a funky bass backbeat pressing things forward while tight live drums keep pace across as “All Day” taps into some old schools vibes, Primo the Cinematic guest starring on a track that’s mostly drums and keyboards. “Mash On” delivers some playful lyrics from Sobers’, providing some needed levity together with touches of electronica while “Vengo” finds the artist taking things cross culturally, a diverse set of sonic textures creating an almost free form jazz feel.
“Warrior Souls” is appropriately moody and darker in tone and “Universal” loosely honors the legendary talent of Michael Jackson, Sobers’ citing Jackson’s timeless elements as inspiration. Those futuristic tones give way to a dreamy set of scratches and samples on “Distortion” while “Still Living” is bright and energetic musically and lyrically close things out on a high note.

BluRum13, while drawing from some unique wells of inspiration, is a thinking man’s artist, crafting lyrics that, quite frankly, may leave a few folks scratching their heads after the first listen. Yet, while he delivers a heady set of rhymes, he also creates great canvases for his lyrics, using the whole palette of musical colors and creating arrangements that are tight and accessible yet still speak of true artistry. Inverted finds the artist turning his music on its head and listeners are all the better for it.