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. Back at it again with the latest edition of our series, Feedback Friday. This week, our group of Blisspop contributors includes: Aeron Premo, Alex Rubenstein, Patrick Blinkhorn, Michael Khalifeh and Will Creason. This week’s music includes tracks by Girl Unit feat. Kelela, Nick Garcia, Ripperton, Newman, and Ocean Hope. Check it out below and send us your suggestions for future Feedback Fridays on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

Girl Unit – “WYWD” (Remix)[Feat. Kelela]

 

Aeron Premo – I just love the flow of this track — it has an upbeat, laid back vibe with some wonderful production and flourishes. Those bird chirping sounds! Kelela’s sexy-cool vocals rightfully stand out and she utilizes the full extent of her vocal range to great effect. The only complaint I have is that the claps are low in the mix-they should be brought up just a tad bit. Otherwise, this is a beautiful track with a nice end-of-spring, beginning-of-summer feel. (8/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – I love Kelela’s vocals in this, but that’s a given. The bird samples in the intro are a nice touch. Besides Kelela’s vocals, the bass and the kick drum are the driving factors in here. The track has good pop/electronic vibes — not what I normally listen to, but not bad at all. (7/10)

Michael Khalifeh – This an easy listening track, but I don’t think it quite lives up to the potential that this collaboration could’ve been. The Girl Unit I know makes beats that would be perfect to compliment the fire and swagger of Kelala or even FKA Twigs, and this one just feels so tame. While the tune is by no means bad, I personally would’ve liked more fire from both sides on a project like this. (5/10)

Will Creason – [Conflict Of Interest Alert: Girl Unit did a remix for my record label in 2010] In 2014 at a now shutterd club called BeCool in Sarrià-Sant Gervasi section of Barcelona, Kelela jumped onto a table to deliver an unannounced set during a Night Slugs / Fade To Mind party.  Four years later she’s a rising pop star with a well received debut album on Warp.  “WYWD” (Remix) solidifies Kelela’s takeover.  Girl Unit’s understated ramshackle riddim and stunning, propulsive bassline is the perfect backing for Kelela lobbing hook after hook.  This is a career highlight for two great artists.  The battle for song of the summer has already been won. (10/10)

Alex Rubenstein – Girl Unit and Kelela gel so well together every time they link up, leading to the kind of effortlessly confident collabs we get here on the 10th anniversary of Night Slugs. The beat is akin to a ride on a carousel, constantly moving, but staying still at the same time. Kelela’s vocals are as sultry and cool as ever, a perfect match for one of the best tracks to be played this summer. (9/10)

 

 

Nick Garcia – “Stepmode” (Original Mix)

 

Aeron Premo – Once I pressed play on this track from DC’s own Nick Garcia, the first things that stood out to me were the atmosphere, synths and beat, which positively reminded me of both “The Man Machine” and “Computer World”-era Kraftwerk. The synth work is sublime, from the bass tones to the ringing high-end patches, and the production is extremely solid. DC’s electronic music scene should not be slept on, and this track shows why. (8.5/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – The sound design in here is gorgeous — it’s clear that a lot of care went into choosing the each synth sound. The melodic synth motif really draws the listener’s attention. The one element that I wasn’t feeling was that effected vocal sample that came in every now and then — other than that, everything in here resonated with me. (7.5/10)

Michael Khalifeh – Love the vibe of this tune, very subdued, very Berlin. Sort of sounds like Kollektiv Turmstrasse and Extrawelt had a baby. Excited to hear what comes next out of the D.C. native. (8/10)

Will Creason – Some playful electro sounds from DC’s Nick Garcia.  I appreciate the very American take on electro on display here, drawing from an NYC rooted sound.  One complaint I have about electro’s resurgence is a lot of it misses the bounce and the soul of the genre, this track interpolates that well.  Nice one – I’d like to hear more like this! (7/10)

Alex Rubenstein – This sounds like the soundtrack to the trippiest level in the yet-to-be-announced 3D Toe Jam & Earl game. Really great sound design from Nick Garcia especially with regards the expansive and careful synth work. This one gets you locked in a groove for sure. (8.5/10)

 

 

Ripperton – “Let me fly with Agnès”

Aeron Premo – Listening to the full ten minutes of this track feels like I am on a train ride similar to the one in “Snowpiercer,” circling the globe to infinity. The loop goes on for ages, but various clanging sounds, intermittent bass lines and keyboard lines pop up in the most peculiar places, which make this track a very pleasing listen. While I have stated in past Feedback Friday columns that I have tired of the down pitched vocals trend, here it is used in a unique and non-cliched way. The production is solid and the vibe is very chill. The denouement comes in close to the nine-minute mark and brings the track to a solid close. (7.5/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – I wasn’t particularly into the pitched down vocal sample and the track progressed a bit too slowly for my taste in the intro. There are lovely sounds in here though. I realize this track aligns with this particular style of deep house, but I felt myself getting impatient over the course of the track — I wanted to hear more concrete changes quicker. (5/10)

Michael Khalifeh – I don’t have a lot to say about this track, and it’s a good thing. While I was initially intimidated by the 10 minute run time, I decided to just be patient and let it spin. While the tune is pretty simple. It has a lot of depth. It sounds like something an introvert would listen to in the early morning hours in some altered state of contemplation. (7/10)

Will Creason – First of all, this is a great title for a compilation of older material: I Miss The Good Old Ripperton.  I don’t know that I miss the good old Ripperton, I’ve always thought his tracks have been solid throughout his career and this album opener is no exception.  Ripperton’s patient, slowly building track construction is on full display and the song oozes with full bodied, floating synth tones.  Quality late night gear. (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein – Who the fuck picked a 10 minute song for Feedback Friday? All kidding aside, this is a solid effort. The groove is patient and momentous enough to keep you locked in the zone. Usually I am fine with a down-pitched vocal sample, but here it just isn’t working for me. There isn’t too much to discuss or anything that really stands out as a high point here, but if you need hypnotic deep house to keep you on task this will do just that. (5.5/10)

 

 

Newman – “Breath Of The Souls” (Original Mix)

 

Aeron Premo – I almost drifted off to sleep listening to the first couple of minutes of this track, thinking that there was nothing all that special about it, until the glorious synth pads kicked in and my mind totally changed. I was taken right back to the days I was buying imported Ministry of Sound chill out compilations from Tower Records in the early 2000s and further exploring my lifelong love of electronic music. The pads, vocals and Middle Eastern flourishes create a cool summer night atmosphere, a perfect track to play just as the night is about to wind down. I would love to check out more from Newman after hearing this. (8/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – To be perfectly honest, I thought my taste had shifted away from All Day I Dream to more tech-oriented music, but this track reminds of the music I used to get down to in New York — I can still remember being mesmerized by Lee Burridge spinning this vibe, thinking to myself, “This is the sound.” The breakdown in this “Breath Of The Souls” is too drawn out for my taste, but other than that, this track earns high marks for reminding me of how much I love All Day I Dream. (8/10)

Michael Khalifeh – Oh man, this is the cleanest tune you’ll hear all week. From start to finish, Newman works his magic to create a hypnotizing flow of rhythm and melody. I’ve always felt that middle eastern influence is way under-utilized in electronic music, and the influx of the goddess on the vocals of this tune is such a tasteful representation of what is possible. Let this one spin on a drive and let your mind wander. (9/10)

Will Creason – This track has a nice sprightly bass riff rubbing against the tech-y rhythm but I’m struggling to find something to hook into here.  The production is clear and the melodic elements are all well placed. The vocals are ultimately a no sale for me, falling on the wrong side of Pure Moods. (4/10)

Alex Rubenstein –  “Breath of the Souls” definitely gets better as it goes along, which is a good thing because the first few minutes had me ready to give this a 2 at best. The middle eastern flair is a nice touch and saves this from being another flavorless house tune. I can see why this would have appeal to people that with different tastes than myself, but between the vocals and length of time it takes to actually become sort of interesting, it’s just not working. (4/10)

 

 

Ocean Hope – “Devotion”

 

Aeron Premo – This track is another example of some beautiful synth work, recalling the vintage 80s sound without falling into synthwave cliches. The urgency of the vocals really add to the atmosphere and recall those of the Swedish artist iamamiwhoami. I also love the track climax, with the changing drum pattern and chopping up of the vocals. This is a great effort from Ocean Hope (love that name!) (8/10)

Patrick Blinkhorn – The opening few notes of that arppegiated syntnth reminded me of the X-Files theme song, so points for that. “Devotion” also earns points for the strong 80s vibes and that smooth bassline. I can’t really hear what the vocals are saying, but that’s OK — they’re lovely … I especially love the vocal harmonies around 2:21. The breakdown hits the spot — such beauty in there! Knock out track right here. (9.5/10)

Michael Khalifeh – I had really high hopes for this tune (no pun) as it starts out of the gate with some luscious keyboard chords and a beat that sounds like it’s from the soundtrack of Drive. Unfortunately, this great start immediately stalls at that point, looping until the vocals drop in, which quite frankly are pretty unbearable. Aside from the fact that it’s hard to understand what’s being said, the actual talent behind the vocals is just meh. I could overlook this if there was some sweet breakdown on the keyboard or drums, but the track just sort of trails out with a whimper after the midway point. There’s just so much potential in the first 40 seconds of this song that weren’t capitalized on and I’m mad about it. (3/10)

Will Creason – Striking throwback synth pop from Greek act Ocean Hope’s debut album Rolling Days.  Beyond the 80s sound set that feels correct down to the fine details, this song has a gleeful earworm synth riff that is joined by a great, powerful vocal.  It’s four minutes of the sun setting on a neon lit boardwalk. (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein – I’ve never heard of Ocean Hope until this moment, but you can tell they really have a vision and are executing it flawlessly. This is some pinpoint synth pop recalling the sounds of the 80s very well. With that being sad, I find this particular track to be a bit underwhelming, somehow missing the highs that would really take this song to the next level. Does anyone know what they are saying? (6/10)

 

 

The Winners and Losers:

Nick Garcia – Stepmode (Original Mix) – 7.9/10

Girl Unit ft. Kelela (WYWD Remix) – 7.8/10

Ocean Hope – “Devotion” – 6.9/10

Newman – “Breath Of The Souls (Original Mix)” – 6.6/10

Ripperton – “Let Me Fly”  – 6.6/10

 

 



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