Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. This is why we have started a new series, Feedback Friday, to bring some of our writers together to give their take on the latest music being released around the world. Our next batch of  willing subjects / Blisspop contributors includes: William Creason, Michael Khalifeh, Patrick Blinkhorn, Aeron Premo, and Alex Rubenstein. This week’s music includes tracks by SOPHIE, James Blake, Peggy Gou, Lindstrøm, and Boston 168. Check it out below and send us your suggestions on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.


SOPHIE – “Faceshopping”

William Creason – With all of the PC Music producers and side projects, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of SOPHIE’s production prowess.  If you’ve forgotten how good SOPHIE can be, you’ll remember 25 seconds into “Faceshopping” when the otherwordly percussion drops like ten tons of jagged metal.  The track briefly swerves into an all melisma diva vocal detour only to return to the beat MUCH LOUDER. A new high watermark for PC Music + track of the week. (10/10)

 

Michael Khalifeh – If you guys haven’t noticed, SOPHIE has taken a much darker turn with her musical direction lately. First with Ponyboy and now Faceshopping, these pieces of bass heavy, distorted sound art reside in a place far far away from the innocence of BIPP and JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE. It’s like SOPHIE entered her rebellious teenage phase. This direction is totally purposeful, however, and this track speaks to feminine beauty culture in a way: “my face is the shop front” gets rearranged in so many different phrases, like someone never satisfied with the way they look, eventually ending in “I’m real when I shop my face”. While this track isn’t necessarily something you’d listen to everyday, it captures a feeling of inadequacy towards one’s appearance and self esteem that is rampant in today’s society run by social media. The explosion of dub sounds are like a weak stomach rumbling with anxiety, reflecting how this culture and expectations makes most feel inside. Rarely do we get dance music this heavy with a message, and we should all appreciate it. (9/10)

 

Patrick Blinkhorn – I’m not particularly familiar with SOPHIE’s music, but I definitely wasn’t ready for this. Maybe it’s the listening mood I’m in right now; maybe I’ve listened to too much music today, so my intake of music is saturated. Either way, I’m not feeling it. The distortion in here is nice and heavy, but I can’t take anymore of this. (4/10)

 

Aeron Premo – With a couple of exceptions (Hannah Diamond, Kero Kero Bonito), I must admit that I never quite got into the glitchy, experimental pop produced by the likes of SOPHIE and A. G. Cook (PC Music) — it sounded to me like a mashup of trap and happy hardcore with scarily pitched up vocals. But with “Faceshopping”, SOPHIE adds an industrial element to the track that shows that more genres are capable of being added as an influence to this style of music. The vocals, provided by Cecile Believe, remind me of the delivery on Tiga’s classic “Shoes” (which I love) and the bridge arrives unexpectedly, but works with the song’s arrangement. After listening to this, I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out more of SOPHIE’s output. (7/10)

 

Alex Rubenstein – After “It’s Okay To Cry” I was a bit concerned as to what the future of SOPHIE was going to look like. She has proved me wrong twice now. First with “Ponyboy” and now here again with “Faceshopping.” This song delivers for me on every level as a SOPHIE song. Between the massive, unstoppable bass and eerily serene vocals I am sold. The sound design alone is a 10/10 for me. (10/10)


James Blake – “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead”

William Creason – I’ve always been a fan of the more bugged out James Blake songs, but despite the cool vocal effects there isn’t much payoff here.  Compared to a track like “Curbside” which rolls and tumbles and has a memorable hook, “If The Car Beside You” has a pretty basic rhythm and not much in the way of a consistent hummable refrain.  One of the great assets James Blake has is you never know what you will get when a new song arrives.  That said, not every new Blake song is a winner. (3/10)

 

Michael Khalifeh – I’m not as well versed in James Blake’s discography so I don’t really have his past music to base this off, but man his music just makes you feel lonely doesn’t it? The car metaphor seems to allude to someone speeding off without him and the musics somber tones alongside Blake’s groaning vocal bit just reeks of heartbreak and desertion. It’s an impressive expression of emotion. I also like the rapid cuts of the samples in this tune, as they sound like someone hyperventilating or the swish of air when cars speed by you on the highway. While he succeeds in sound ambiance though, I doubt I’ll be revisiting this one often, which is an obvious detractor. It just doesn’t stand strong enough to be a single in my opinion. (6.5/10)

 

Patrick Blinkhorn – James Blake’s “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead” makes for a good thought experiment, but I didn’t find it an enjoyable listening experience. That said, I find much of James Blake’s music insufferable. I feel that James Blake is making music for the future; while having this apparent level of foresight commands respect, there’s something to be said for making music for people in the present. Whether considering the annoying, dissonant background melodic element to the obnoxious ominous vocals, this track doesn’t work for me. I’m awarding several points because I recognize the level of artistry and skill that goes into making a piece of music like this, but I don’t want to hear this piece of music again. (3.5/10)

 

Aeron Premo – When I first hit the play button, I was expecting what I would normally hear when listening to a James Blake track — trippy, downtempo yet soulful musical arrangements and a soaring, yet haunting vocal. While the former was there (and I really do love the melody), I was quite taken aback by the glitchy effects on the vocal. I was only able to make out the title of the song, which kept me from delving deep into the lyrics and the potential meaning of the song. As much as I want artists to constantly evolve and explore new avenues in their sound, I can’t help but wonder what this track would sound like with his standard vocal stylings. (5/10)

 

Alex Rubenstein – Seeing that there is a new James Blake instrumental track is typically an exciting thing for me, so naturally I was excited to review this track and was worried I might be biased. Somehow this track has elements and bits and pieces that I like, but put together the way they are just is not doing it for me. The vocal sample is grating and barely has any bit of emotion left in it by the time Blake is done with it. This one is a mess. (2/10)


Peggy Gou – “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)”

William Creason – I covered a Peggy Gou remix for Blisspop last year, and her profile has continued to rise.  Now “It Makes You Forget” pulls together all of Gou’s production strengths, a spry melody meeting a bouncy tropical house rhythm, and adds her vocals to the mix for an early blast of summer.  Another huge leap forward from one of the scene’s most exciting rising artists. (9/10)

 

Michael Khalifeh – Gou continues to make that oversaturated lo-fi sound come around fresh, little bit of acid, little disco, this is a really pleasant listen. As far as I know, this is the first time she has put her vocals down on a track, sort of following in the hype of Yaeji’s korean language tracks that took off last year. Thus, it’s important that Gou distinguished her voice to be different from Yaeji’s and she does it well here. While she’s definitely still developing her sound, style, and voice, I don’t think she really knows quite what to do with these tools yet, and this song sounds more a pushing of boundaries than a full-bodied single. Excited for what’s to come though. (7/10)

 

Patrick Blinkhorn – The first thing I noted in this track was the lovely stereo spread — I really like the acid bass sound as well. I appreciated the break from the keys at 2:48 — up until that point, the track felt a tad too stagnant for me. I noted the subtle, pleasant development of several elements over the course of the track. This would work well early on in a house DJ set. (7/10)

 

Aeron Premo – I was knocked out by this track when I first heard it. I hear shades of salsa, disco and house throughout — throw in Peggy’s vocals (sung in her native Korean) and inimitable production style and you have a work of art that could be played in a cocktail bar, pool party or club and everyone’s spirits would immediately be lifted. She manages to create a very original track that I believe will remain a classic for decades to come. I can’t wait for the full EP to come out on March 2nd — her debut on Ninja Tune. My favorite track of 2018 so far — it’s going to be hard to top this one! (10/10)

 

Alex Rubenstein – This is the sound of a night out on a foreign beach with a beautiful partner. Peggy Gou delivers a hit for Ninja Tune with the galloping rhythm of this track and the luscious synth pads she uses throughout. The vocals compliment the mood of the song very nicely, I’d love to see more of this from her. (8/10)


Lindstrøm Feat. Ronika – “Didn’t Know Better”

William Creason – A confession: I’ve never been too big on Lindstrøm, his music has never really clicked with me even though it feels like something I should like.  I’m not a full convert with “Didn’t Know Better”, but I certainly see its appeal.  The production value is sharp and pristine, no pieces out of place, and the gliding lead synth warbles and wiggles as well as any 80s boogie funk track.  The vocals are decent, serviceable, not distracting, but they don’t carry the track to another level.  All in all, a fine tune! (6/10)

 

Michael Khalifeh – I usually love disco influenced, summery bangers, but for some reason this didn’t click with me. I think it’s mostly the vocals, which break this track instead of make it. Lindstrøm is a legend obviously, but this one lacks the depth he usually puts into his music and sound design. (3/10)

 

Patrick Blinkhorn – You know how certain pitch intervals like the tritone are said to drive dogs crazy? The bassline in this track had that same effect on me. The constant rising progression in the track didn’t sit well with me either. The production here is strong, as can be expected from a producer of Lindstøm’s caliber, but the track doesn’t resonate with me. (5/10)

 

Aeron Premo – “Didn’t Know Better” has actually been a staple of Lindstrøm’s live sets for the last year or two, but is only now receiving a proper release. As I’ve said before on this blog, it is impossible for him to release a bad track. The 80s freestyle/boogie-indebted vocals of English singer/producer Ronika are a perfect fit for Lindstrøm’s glittering disco production. The only thing I would change about this song if I were producing it is that I would have used a different opening synth patch — the one used is slightly on the cheesy side. Otherwise, “Didn’t Know Better” makes me want to put on my best disco dress and spin around on the dance floor all night long — as long as I don’t get too dizzy! (9/10)

 

Alex Rubenstein –  I can see how this would resonate with some people; it’s got a relatively pleasant bounce to it with some inoffensive vocal contributions from Ronika, but there is nothing to set this apart from any other summertime groove you could dance to on the deck of a cruise ship while imbibing frozen alcohol. This is a fine effort, but it truly doesn’t move me in any way. (3/10)


Boston 168 – “Cybernetics” 

William Creason – Last week on Feedback Friday, the crushing Keepsakes track took the top spot. “Cybernetics” keeps the bleak warehouse techno ball rolling.  The rhythm is immediately halting and the pull of the acid bassline throws the track ever forward.  This is certainly one to ram the dance! (9/10)

 

Michael Khalifeh – I really feel like the only way you can rate this track is within the context of it as a techno set weapon, as its applications are sort of limited to that, or say, when your speeding on the highway. So that aside, I love the feeling of this track if you’re willing to ride with it. From the start it reels you with a hypnotizing baseline and acid hook that just makes you feel like you’re up to no good. This tune is like black coffee giving you that extra kick when you’ve been dancing for hours on end and need something to shake things up with aggressive intent. It’s not complex, it’s not catchy, and it’s not for everyone, but I think it’s fun. (6.5/10)

 

Patrick Blinkhorn – Ah, some proper techno. I can imagine this being played at a Drumcode party or something of that nature. That pad and bass lead in that background are a bit more progressive leaning than the techno I listen to these days, but not bad. That’s a nice warehouse kick in there too. I could definitely dance to this, but it didn’t click for me 100%. (6/10)

 

Aeron Premo – This is the first track I have listened to from the Turin-based duo Boston 168, and I am quite impressed. It had all the classic elements of contemporary techno that I love — chugging beats, a mix of airy synth pads and dark synth stabs, and an ominous atmosphere. I would have loved to hear a bit more of the airy synths, but this is quality techno. And I fell in love with the subtle key change that arrives in the track’s last 45 seconds. (8/10)

 

Alex Rubenstein – It’s pitch black except for the glow of the lasers, occasionally illuminating flailing limbs and bobbing heads. Where is the bass even coming from? The kick drum is the only thing keeping you alive. (5/10)


The Winners and Losers:

Peggy Gou – “It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)” – 8.2/10

SOPHIE – “Faceshopping” – 8/10

Boston 168 – “Cybernetics” – 6.9/10

Lindstrøm Feat. Ronika – “Didn’t Know Better” – 5.2/10

James Blake – “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead” – 4/10



Leave a Reply





%d bloggers like this: