Once you navigate through Inspected Records‘ artist roster, it makes absolute sense to see voljum standing there. This young producer proved he has a lot on his plate to offer, having consistently delivered exquisite tracks. dayscapes is the first EP since cyberglobe, two years back in time when nobody had a bat soup that would bring the whole world to its knees, not just yet. Anyway, this peculiar release will expand your own limits of what genres and textures you think could be mashed into a jazzy electronic song. Yet, this comes at the risk of becoming tedious, overwhelming, or over the top – that’s for you to decide.
The furthest I ever got into this genre was through Gramatik and The Floozies‘ funkier stuff. However, I do not sense dayscapes belonging in this tier, even though there is enough analog contribution. Labeling it as nu-jazz, for example, would’ve been too far-fetched. Instead, much of the glitchiness and the bass drops locate this EP closer to Koan Sound and Skrillex. In addition, bits of GAS‘s Narkopop could be cited here and there, as orchestral vibes come along as well, albeit sporadically. As you can see, the issue is as straightforward as you might expect: it’s a bombastic record, which can be either boring or exciting. I myself the latter descriptor.
The four tracks that constitute dayscapes add up to a sufficient runtime of 22 minutes. Given its eclectic nature, that’s enough for me. It definitely feels quite long, though. There’s too much to digest in a considerably brief period, and that’s fantastic. Since it is only a few tracks long, I’ll delve into all of them just for the sake of extracting as much detail as I can. Make sure to click below so you can appreciate precious artwork. Well, that and the music, obviously.
“café mañana” kicks off this album. The latin clave gets you groovin’ immediately as the brass section harmonizes a build-up. So far, the dubstep breaks are nothing but unexpected. Seconds before the one-minute mark, the song’s sonic dimensions are shaken up through heavy sidechaining and bass drops, blending with the underlying funky groove. As of this moment, the music sets sail, heading off on an ever-evolving route of dynamical counterpoints. This song would have been appropriate on a jazz/funk record if it wasn’t for the mind-bending sound design layered on top. The execution is so focused that it makes me think that voljum was looking to provide an entity to the electronic inputs of the music. Maybe this applies to the genre as a whole, though.
Shifting into a more contemplative atmosphere, “components” follows up on “café mañana”. The tempo drops, providing space that’s in turn filled by a breakbeat drum loop, which creates a headbanging opportunity if you feel like it. Musically, this song takes me back to BadBadNotGood‘s third record. In a way, it feels like an instrumental hip hop track – or should I say glitch-hop. It is still a jazzy tune but moody, somewhat angrier in an elegant manner. Once again, lots of drops, electronic chainsaws, and acid basslines enhance the stylistic scope by an utterly outlined stereo placement.
“anemoi” is probably my favorite, for I deem it to be the most emotional piece. The first few seconds act as the perfect passage for me to explain how I feel about this kind of music. The introduction creates enough visual references to place yourself in a 16-bit futuristic forest. This is achieved by analog and electronic concoctions of acoustic guitar and harp passages, along with drop-like textures. The harmonic progression helps a lot in providing the emotional edge. It lays out a path to follow without revealing its final destination. The song then develops somewhat fast, almost like rushing, which gives it sort of a rollercoaster dynamic. In a nutshell, it is a constant, fleeting mutation.
Many say ‘leave the best for last‘, and well, they’re absolutely right in this case. “half-overcast” is definitely the EP’s quintessence. By revisiting every aspect of this collisional genre, the song reflects the potential of its talented producer. Through the repetition of humanoid vocal licks, several dynamic variations, and heavy landscaping – soundscaping, duh – the inner robot species living inside this music fully emancipate and declare independence on our imagination. It is an exciting journey, after all. The most substantial extended play I’ve heard in a long while, for sure.
In a few words, dayscapes is a collection of tracks to be experienced, not just heard. I am not sure if passive listeners will get the most out of it. They might get easily thrown out of the loop, since the music is attention-demanding. Tons of spatial modulation take you from a place to another in just a matter of seconds. Sound is fractured, twisted, and rearranged to fit just fine in context. Yet, the symbiosis amongst acoustic and digital elements is palpable. They need each other to work. dayscapes might be the perfect representation of a flight simulation game; it’s quite the experience. Just don’t complain if you get dizzy.