It’s always interesting to see how a music artist evolves in terms of their sound. In the case of Manchester native Naomi we’ve seen her go from what I’d call a “pure” pop sound (when she performed as Caleidra) to a more progressive pop sound (with her debut single under the Naomi name “Rivers Run”). This is most evidenced in her new EP Take Back The Power which is a departure from her more organic record Another Day.
Here we see a full embracing of an electro-pop sound with lyrics that reflect her new sound. The lead single from the EP “Take Back the Power” almost seems to be a declaration that states “welcome to the new era.” The song exists in three forms on the album; the single version, a Tiesto-esque dance club remix by DJ George Bowie, and (my personal favorite) a crunching rock remix by Simple Minds’ producer/collaborator Gordy Goudie. The song has a strong melody and each mix gives a different experience of the track. The other tracks on Take Back the Power are the songs “My Mistake” and “Didn’t Make the Grade.”
“My Mistake” is honestly the strongest song on the entire album. The harmonies, the atmospheric tones, the groove, the instrumentation, and Naomi’s voice all come together in a truly perfect way. From the pre-chorus you know something great is going to happen and then the heavily harmonized chorus kicks the song into the stratosphere.
“Didn’t Make the Grade” is the most relaxed and arguably darkest song on the record. The heavy use of Naomi’s falsetto along with the pocket groove and strong piano/synth lines really gives the song unique character.
All in all Take Back The Power is a strong EP that easily can be placed among today’s pop stars. Naomi’s sound is mainstream and unique at the same time. Her voice is uniquely hers; not a clone of people currently occupying the Billboard top 40.
Naomi’s worth your time, I promise.
Take Back The Power can be found at:
Naomi can be found at:
It seems like my music site is becoming one long list of eulogies. I hate that I have to keep saying goodbye to artists that impacted me as a composer and musician. In this case here we have lost the closest thing to a god music has ever had.
Prince was a an artist that never compromised his vision for anyone. His willingness to always push his music forward regardless of popular trends was truly wondrous. Prince had this incredible ability to create a rebirth of his art with every new record. You always knew it was him with the wailing voice and soaring guitar; nevertheless you knew it was something brand new from a true genius.
Though his spirit has left this planet, his influence will always remain. I’ll always remember to be me and only me when I write music. It’s how Prince would want it. This is, after all, how he created his sound with every note played. Prince was himself, as only he could be.
Ambient music attempts to do the opposite of what music is perceived to be. We expect as a society for music to fit into our day, be it a special event or simply the mundane day-to-day. Ambient music on the other hand almost demands your entire attention. If you simply allow the tones to be background noise, you miss the complexity and experience that ambient composers create.
Tapes and Topographies, an ambient project from Dallas (formed by Tear Ceremony’s Todd Gautreau), is proof of my prior descriptions of the ambient genre. Their newest record Soft Decibels is a beautiful, melodic journey through an ambient world that requires your full attention. The record relies on various motifs to drive the tracks along with atmospheric effects. The result is an LP that from start to finish brings you into its world with a warmth that immediately attracts you. This is a musical landscape that is inviting and hypnotizing.
Soft Decibels follows the approach of making music from as few materials as possible. Notes are expensive, so to speak, on this record and are used with extreme care. Never is a note wasted in a flurry of melodic patterns; instead we are given an emotional experience from minimalist composition.
Give this record a chance.
Soft Decibels by Tapes and Topographies can be found at:
Ambient music comes in many forms. Some ambient composers draw on melody with various effects to push the songs. Other artists use atmospheric sounds to form their music where it is much more about immersion in the entire songs. Swedish ambient artist Multiface falls more into the latter category.
In his newest release Gangsterism, the artist melds various textures of rhythm, synths, vocals, and various effects to create a dark and ethereal experience. The record takes you into an ambient fever dream where you feel like you are in either outer space or the apocalypse. It’s really hard to explain without listening for yourself what I am getting at; but once you hear Gangsterism it invades your senses.
The album is described by Multiface’s PR team as “sound and noises combined makes this album tense.” Tense doesn’t even cover it. The album is haunting and wonderful. You feel almost like you’re drowning in the looping and distorted sounds but you don’t want to come up to the surface.
As an ambient composer myself I know how hard it is to stand out in this genre. I truly believe Multiface does that. Do me a favor and give this record a chance.
Gangsterism by Multiface can be found at:
Free jazz is easily one of my favorite styles of the massive jazz genre. There is something about the element of expression within it–rhythmically and melodically–that makes it so special.
Following in this style is musician and visual artist Charles Chace who performs under the project name The Paul Swest. In his newest album Wizard Talk improvisation is the key component to every track. Each instrument has its own soul and when combined there is a collision of atonality and malleable rhythm. Rather than relying on particular motifs or outlined note patterns, each track allows the listener to engage actively in the process of a song being born.
The frequent chromaticism and experimentation found in Wizard Talk may turn off the casual “jazz lounge” listener. That’s fine by me. As a composer and musician who understands the value of music without a tonal center; this kind of sound jives with me. This jazz record is for the already indoctrinated listener of the avant-garde and serialism in music composition.
If you like music that attempts to bend your ear and mind; you should give Wizard Talk a chance.
Wizard Talk by The Paul Swest can be found at: