500 Word Review: Flume “Skin Companion EP I”

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Following his successful release of his sophomore full length album, “Skin”, which came out earlier this year, Australian EDM artist Flume is back with his latest EP “Skin Companion EP I”.  The EP, which apparently seems to be a continuation of “Skin” made up of what appears to be b-sides from the record, is a short, 4 song project that was released only a few days ago.  “Skin”, which in my opinion is an album of the year contender, saw widespread positive approval from his fan base and became Flume’s most successful release to date.  I personally was not familiar with Flume until after the release of “Skin”, but he has since become one of my favorite electronic artists and “Skin” is easily one of my favorite EDM albums of all time.  That being said I was both surprised and shocked when I recently opened my Youtube app to see new material from Flume.  “Skin” itself is a 16 track album running over an hour in length, so the fact that there is still material left over to be released is shocking to me.  However, I was still very excited to hear this latest project from Flume!

The songwriting on “Skin Companion EP I” is slightly different from “Skin”, but as the EP’s title suggests, it is still fairly similar to the sound heard on the 2016 full length.  Overall, “Skin Companion EP I” is a collection of upbeat, almost trance like songs.  The song structure for each track is eclectic with a heavy use of unique, peculiar beats and synths that is fairly similar to “Skin”, but is rather a perfect match to Flume’s signature style and the subgenre, wonky, that Flume often writes in.  Some percussion is mixed in in an odd manner, like for example what is heard throughout the track “v”, but this ultimately further compliments Flume’s signature style of electronic music.  The jittery randomness that flows well with the rhythmic beats can be, at some points, reminiscent of Blank Banshee’s material.  Honestly, despite the fact that pop influenced, high pitched female vocals are heard in nearly every track on “Skin Companion EP I”, this EP in my opinion, is actually closer to sounding like a vaportrap release than a radio friendly edm release, which is not a bad thing at all!  This collection of songs seems a little more experimental than what is heard on “Skin” and even though these tracks sound similar to the material on the 2016 full length, I can see why they are grouped together in a separate release altogether.  However, these variations heard from “Skin” are very slight and these four songs could easily have been mixed into “Skin”, and in fact, they could’ve served as trance like, calm sounding interludes or tracks that provide breathing room between the more intense songs heard on “Skin”.  This would give “Skin” even more range, from a song structure perspective, and would ultimately improve “Skin”.  Regardless, “Skin Companion EP I” is a great release on its own and is another phenomenal project from Flume.

In summation, I give “Skin Companion EP I” an 8.3/10 and I can without a doubt say that this release will be a fierce contender for the EPs of the year list!  This latest project from Flume is interesting, compelling, and extremely relaxing and enjoyable to listen to.  If you are a fan of electronic music you need to give this EP a listen.  Also, if “Skin Companion EP I” is the first installment to a list of projects associated with “Skin” to be released, which I am assuming it is, then I cannot wait to see what Flume releases next during this “Skin” era. Each of the four tracks from the album are posted below for those who want to check out the project and be sure to visit the site this week for more album reviews and music content!

“Trust”:

“v”:

“Heater”:

“Quirk”:

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500 Word Review: Blank Banshee “MEGA”

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Recently, vaporwave and experimental electronic artist, Blank Banshee, released his latest album titled “MEGA”.  “MEGA” features a recognizable vaporwave sound that is common througout the fairly new genre, but also has numerous aspects that separate Blank Banshee and his material from anyone else in vaporwave and in the process show the growth in the genre over the last few years.  Personally, I was not too familiar with vaporwave as a genre before this review and actually knew nothing about Blank Banshee himself, so I thought this would be a interesting album to review since I did not have a previous background in either the artist or the genre they write in.

Despite not knowing much about Blank Banshee himself, it was very apparent within the first few tracks that his sound was one that heavily relied on the use of reverb.  Throughout the entire release the high quality production is constantly accompanied by a heavy use of reverb, which enhances the sound and style that Blank Banshee himself is trying to achieve.  However, the use of reverb isn’t the only prominent tool used to capture this desired sound heard on “MEGA”.  The frequent use of soundscapes (that at numerous times even creates an atmospheric vaporwave sound), trap influenced beats, and various altered samples helps encompass the ultimate sound of this project.

In my opinion the strongest feature of Blank Banshee’s unique sound is the numerous soundscapes heard in tracks like “Frozen Flame” and “EXOS”.  These almost entirely soundscape based songs, mixed in with reverb and even some panning like that heard on the more hip-hop influenced “Sandclock”, help show how multi-dimensional “MEGA” is and in return prove that vaporwave as a genre is beginning to evolve and diverge into different subgenres.  These soundscapes and synth pads, created using various pan flutes, string and wind instruments, and other software-generated sounds only help to compliment the trap-like beats heard on virtually every song.  Along with this, the bright yet simplistic album artwork helps to visually describe this sound while fitting the vaporwave aesthetic.

When listening to “MEGA” the use of experimentation is also extremely obvious.  Fitting the style of the genre itself, “MEGA” constantly jumps from section to section, never staying on one riff or part for too long.  The short length in tracks (the longest track on the record is only 2:37) allows for these brief compositions to flow easily from one track to another.  Despite experimentation, there are only a few moments where the record is rough sounding and not melodic.  Usually heard at the beginning of the release, these seemingly unpleasant sections and samples are slightly distracting, but do not last long and ultimately have a small, yet significant negative impact on the release.  Most of the album is actually very relaxed and slow in tempo except for the track “My Machine”, which sounds like a modern version of a notable earlier The Prodigy release.  However, during the melodic moments, this experimental electronic sound pays off and helps incorporate the vaporwave sound in a refreshing style.

In summation, I give “MEGA” by Blank Banshee an 8.3/10.  If you’re new to vaporwave like myself I definitely suggest starting here with this album.  Its high quality production and mix of classic vaporwave influence with modern sounding beats and instrumentals helps bridge the gap between an electronic music fan and a long time vaporwave fan.  Listen to the full album below and if you enjoy it make sure to pick up a copy off Blank Banshee’s bandcamp page!

 

Download “MEGA” here:

https://blankbanshee.bandcamp.com/album/mega