Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday – January 25, 2019

Feedback Friday Artwork

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark on music today. In our Feedback Friday series, we bring you the latest sounds, sorting through the good and the bad. This latest edition of Feedback Friday features music by DJ Lag & Epic B, Enamour, HEALTH, James Blake, and Vakhtang. Blisspop contributors Will Creason, Marshall Stukes, Justin Barini-Rivers, and Katie Bowles selected and reviewed the music this week.


DJ Lag & Epic B – “Going Modd”

Will Creason – This is a dream match up: Durban gqom producer DJ Lag meets BK FDM heavyweight Epic B for a one off on Manchester’s Swing Ting. I’m amazed at how hard this track knocks and how much it feels like the exact middle point between gqom’s minimal dark syncopation and FDM’s dance focused bounce. This is one of the rare cross-genre collaborations that really couldn’t have been any better, fulfilling all lofty expectations. (10/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – The first 4 bars really tell you what kind of journey you are about to go on. From the rhythm to the pitching, this song has a very clean 808. Figuratively speaking, because once it’s laid under this beat, it is truly mean. The kick on its own really gets the job done, and the interchanging melodies and horns really pushes the pace. (7.5/10)\

Alvaro Hernandez – If I can sum this up in one word: bouncy. The rhythm throughout the three minutes kept my head nodding with a bassline that is just destined to be played loud on a sound system. Looks like DJ Lag’s Essential Mix is going to be a mandatory on the playlist this week. (8.5/10)

Katie Bowles – This track has a lot going on. I was with it until about 1:00 (the quick drum breakdown there sounded like it was leading to something), but after the DMX-esque bark it kind of lost me. It’s catchy enough, but I wouldn’t listen to it regularly. (4/10)

Marshall Stukes – The synth sounded a tad cheap to me, but the best part of the song, the 808 breakdowns with the added pads, made me forget about them. That is until they come back. The drums are definitely a good addition. (6.5/10)

Enamour – “Ruby”

Will Creason – This has all of the classic Anjunadeep signifiers: super high end production, full synth pads and ebbing synth patterns that froth with excitement. It’s an easy crate addition for fans of the label and admirers of this style of house. There’s a fabulous release at the halfway point here, reigniting the track for the last leg! (8/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – Enamour always seems to tell a different story with every song he releases, and this one feels triumphant. The drum grooves he creates in his tracks are hard to match in any genre and “Ruby” is no exception. Involuntary body movement in time, also known as “dancing,” is really the goal right? This tune really builds on the arrangement at every step making you want more and more. About halfway through you get a big release and it’s magical; the three minutes prior almost feel like a dream. This song is a good place to lose yourself. (10/10)

Alvaro Hernandez – A song that has the Anjunadeep sound embedded in everything, from its rising melody to club-ready percussion, Enamour has scored another deep house hit with “Ruby.” (8.5/10)

Katie Bowles – I love a D.C. artist doing big things and I love dogs, so I can’t say no to this track (named after Enamour’s dog, Ruby). It’s got the same kind of “start dancing now” feel that “Crescent” did, although I preferred Vakhtang’s melody a bit more. This one’s a little long for me; it felt like it could’ve ended multiple times as the track went on, but I didn’t dislike listening to the end. (7/10)

Marshall Stukes – Man this track is awesome. The attention to detail in this song is all over the place, from the delay flourishes to the percussions. My favorite aspect of the song is how the lead plays a back seat to a new element but transitions back seamlessly. (9/10)

HEALTH – “Strange Days (1999)”

Will Creason – I first saw HEALTH at a music festival in 2010 and they put on an intense live show. I’ve been following them since then and through all of their changes they’ve always manage to sound uniquely like themselves. “Strange Days” fits the pattern; the push-and-pull groove that cedes to a brutal guitar riff feels new to them and it comes off in a spectacular fashion. Bonus point for referencing the date inside of the movie Strange Days. This is great! (9/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – This tune is so powerful and unique. The distortion is perfect. The arrangement screams true songwriting. The overall vibe reminds me of Crystal Castles. To be blunt, I hear industrial and metal mixing with electronic music. This song represents more than I could describe in this format, but this tune is worth a few listens to grasp the full impact of what’s occurring. “Strange Days” is aggressive and driving, but there is a class involved that isn’t seen a lot in most music. (8/10)

Alvaro Hernandez – Right from the start, you could tell this song was going to be raw and gritty (not in a bad way though). I’m not a frequent listener of noise rock, so, unfortunately, it just didn’t click with me. (3/10)

Katie Bowles – This is so intense! I actually like it a lot, though it kind of evokes a certain cheesiness – like a warehouse fight scene in a vampire movie (I’m picturing “Blade”). This would be a really cool one to hear live/on a great sound system or in my headphones while trying to push through the end of a workout. (7/10)

Marshall Stukes – I really enjoy the direction HEALTH took with this track. It’s just heavy enough, it’s atmospheric, and, ultimately, a gateway drug for the rest of HEALTH’s discography. (8/10)

James Blake – “Where’s The Catch? (feat. André 3000)”

Will Creason – The last thing I would have possibly expected in James Blake collaborating with André 3000 is André coming through with a full on set of bars, even switching into Outkast-era double time for a moment. The weakest link for me is the listless cyclical piano motif and what is becoming the expected James Blake-ism (sings a line, repeats the line in an inhuman pitched up octave). (5/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – What is there to say that hasn’t been said? James Blake and André 3000. This album is full of gems and dream collaborations. James Blake put his time into this song. The piano riff really holds so much power, yet it’s so simple. This track breathes in and out of itself. When André enters, it’s a full switch in the momentum. Pushing in and out of the groove, André doesn’t fail to live up to his reputation. This is clean and full of references that fly right by you; it’s a blur of textures and sounds, yet it passes by so quickly and easily. Play it a couple times to see the worlds that they created together in this lovely tune. (8.5/10)

Alvaro Hernandez – James Blake’s singing voice? Pass. Decent beat and André with the feature bars? Bring it. (5/10)

Katie Bowles – Everyone keeps talking about how James Blake’s new album, Assume Form, is more (maybe too) approachable than his past work, but if it’s bringing tracks like this to the masses, I’m completely cool with it. Blake’s vocals are dreamy as usual, but the real star of this one is André 3000 laying a near perfect, introspective (and rare – his last feature was in 2017) verse down in the middle of the song. This is one of my favorites from Assume Form and I’ve been playing it nonstop. (10/10)

Marshall Stukes – The vocals and the production are so on point. André 3000 definitely brings it, and the vocal medley at the end of the song was nice. (8/10)

Vakhtang – “Crescent”

Will Creason – Wow, wonderful sound design on this tune! Vakhtang manages to do a lot with the bare minimum of elements. The bass sounds here are superb – a great ultra low sub bass and blasts of hoovery overdriven tones. Surely one for some dance floor damage. (8/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers – This song is big, dark and ominous. It’s so much more than a banger for dark nights; it’s atmospheric depth caught me off guard. The overall mix and sound design sets it apart from most songs. The level on the mix allows for everything to really float together, and the arrangement works to keep you entertained, but my favorite part is the execution. The song gives you a taste of the concept and then executes it to perfection. The vocal edits are superb and creative. This song has it all. This is a big tune and I look forward to hearing more tunes from Vakhtang. (9/10)

Alvaro Hernandez – Starts off nice and easy then dives into an industrial-style rhythm. It’s a catchy tune but doesn’t have much else to it. (5/10)

Katie Bowles – This one. This one! This is exactly what I want to hear when I’m at a club/festival/anywhere a DJ’s present – songs like this make me want to move from the get-go. The beat almost immediately sucked me in and then the building melody line was so good. When it drops back in at 1:07? Amazing. Will absolutely listen to this one again. (9/10)

Marshall Stukes – This song felt a tad tame. I wish the bass synth played out a bit longer and had a bit more variation. All in all, it was a good track, though. (7/10)


The Final Scores

Enamour – “Ruby” — 8.5/10

Vakhtang – “Crescent” — 7.6/10

DJ Lag & Epic B – “Going Modd” — 7.3/10

James Blake – “Where’s The Catch? (feat. André 3000)” — 7.3/10

HEALTH – “Strange Days (1999)” — 7/10



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