izzi on an island

izzi on an island

I’m going to welcome myself back after a couple month hiatus. *Welcome back, me!*

Sorry about that. It won’t happen again, I promise. Now on to the point of what I’m doing here.

So I’ve been searching for some good things to review and have come up short on a lot of fronts and that may or may not have been why this has taken so long. Okay, it’s got some accountability but the rest is pure laziness. But today, I’ve found something for current and future. I’ll be looking at Izzard’s ~Soda Island Songs~ which will be a precursor to a review of A Trip to Soda Island by Soda Island aka Izzard. Sorry if that was hard to follow along with. You’ll get it sooner or later.

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~Soda Island Songs~ isn’t new. In fact, it’s about a year old. Which is okay. I’m a huge fan and almost stickler for new music. I feel like I can’t listen to old music because I’m constantly missing out on new creation/expression. But even though ~Soda Island Songs~ is a year old, it’s new to me. That’s how I’ll justify it.

First off I’ll just say that this EP is extremely ethereal. It flows, it curves, it waves, it bends. Sometimes there isn’t that backbone to hold everything together which can give you this disorienting bend that makes you feel like the train isn’t falling off the track but going upside down. The first track is Empty Skies. Damn. I feel like I’m walking through clouds in zero gravity with this track. It’s spacious and a little dreamy. Just enough to bring you back down to get ready for Ghost Naps.

Now when I heard the first chord of Ghost Naps I immediately thought of FEZ and can still get that vibe throughout. And trust me, that’s not a bad vibe. It’s probably my favorite video game soundtrack ever made (excluding Legend of Zelda because c’mon). Ghost Naps is organic and still has a little bit of that dreaminess you hear in Empty Skies. It has a flow that’s a mix of a synth orchestra, dissonant chords, and a soft lead bouncing along the spine of the track. You can’t help but get lost in the strings until you hear a quiet break of only percussion and that soft lead. Introducing some vocal samples completes a good mix of spacious melodies and tip-toe synths until the last chord with the modulation turned all the way down. Dreamy.

I think dreamy is a good word for this EP. Each song has that dreamy effect and it may just be the reverb heavy piano/strings accompanied by the various noises like crickets, and percussion that sounds like rhythmic drops of silverware.

The third track Threads has a bit of a change in pace. It introduces Blankts to rule the vocal track. It’s a match made in heaven. The dreamy synth and soft percussion bounces along with the help of Blankts vocals to guide the track. Just listen and follow along.

The last track is probably my favorite if I had to pick favorites. Port Town is layered incredibly well and has a great progression throughout. You fall and get picked back up again several times. It’s a great feeling. It’s like watching a movie over and over again at different times of your life. Garden State means something different to me now than it did back in 2010. And that’s how Port Town feels. You get this feeling of sincerity and comfort and it evolves. While the synth lines may be the same, the mods/effects/tone sounds different throughout. I get a familiarity with it after listening one time. It’s like I’ve known the song for a long time and I just keep coming back. It evolves like life. Early we’re rough, jagged, not quite round at the edges, to bright and loud, to that same brightness just toned down a bit and maybe a bit more organic. Then we grow, we change, we evolve into confident, friendly, open, enduring. When you hear a tiny vocal sample back up this organic sound at the end fueled with a ride symbol and maybe even a snare drum, you feel like you’re done. You’ve made it. It’s complete.

Check out all of Izzard’s stuff here and I will be working on reviewing A Trip to Soda Island which is a full length LP done by Soda Island in my next one. Catch you then!

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falling in luv with arbour

falling in luv with arbour

arbour describes himself as sad (among other things that we’ll discuss later) and honestly, luv songs kinda bums me out.

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But I’m bummed in a good way.

The first track is called “elusive” which is the opposite of how it feels. You can almost physically grasp the emotion. It’s loaded with subtleties that fill the empty spaces. You can hear what sounds like wind chimes towards the beginning but after you’re welcomed by the snappy percussion, you find out they aren’t in fact wind chimes but guitar floating over the progression. This is a common theme throughout the record. The progressions feel like hands slipping out of each other’s grip. It’s like watching something fade away in the water. The whole record is incredibly emotive. Filled with melancholic undertones on top of dragging progressions that seem to end up leading to nowhere. The instrumentation, I think, is a reflection of the time and place in which the record was made. Imagine an icy river in the dead of winer in the Pacific Northwest. You see where I’m going? arbour is basically the soundtrack to that. And it’s an accurate interpretation of the emotions we experience during winter.

Now that we’ve talked about the emotion behind the tracks, let’s talk about the musicality. So much is hidden in this record. Sounds creep up and appear out of nothing or are created from something you couldn’t foresee. The record is wavy. Wavy as in spinning a record (not quite spinning at 33 1/2) in a depravation tank. Not like bouncy club stuff. More like a sad piano drowning. The compression is tight and the control is consistent throughout the record. This helps define the sound even further and convey the same message throughout. Also, just take a second to listen to the resolve of each progression within the songs. It’s like watching a mini-series with a great finale every time without seeming repetitive (or having the illusion of no repetition).

I typically hate tracks like this with samples of popular rap/hip-hop over them. I’d rather hear something new and original that might flow a little better/naturally. That being said, the way arbour handles layering Drake and Lil Wayne is phenomenal. The compression controls the vocals almost to how they become an instrument rather than the top layer. This is such a good way to incorporate outside samples because of how it makes everything flow together.

This record is a good one for a sad day, lonely car ride, or just enjoying the rain. I find the tracks to be incredibly emotive and help my productivity and inspiration because I can find myself floating through each track only to be pulled back in by a bell or a quiet snap of the guitar. The record was “very introverted, very reclusive, very sad overall.”

luv songs is an introverted reflection of winter in the Pacific Northwest. Not only winter but the cold, lonely feeling it sometimes brings with it. luv songs is arbour’s move away from lo-fi into ambient. Although it garner’s somewhat of the same crowd, he feels that arbour is ambient at heart. And we may get to see the evolution very soon. arbour is working on a few new tracks with his roommates fantompower, pkt, and yonder that to him are “inspiring to just be around”.

You can find arbour’s music on Bandcamp, SoundCloud and more. Shoutout to Corey and Inner Ocean Records as well. And follow arbour on Twitter @arbour__

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