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Aftrparty – Hold Me Down

“Hold Me Down” is a balancing act. Gritty yet melodic, infectious yet subdued, the Aftrparty production constantly shifts gears with precision as one form gives way to another. It’s not just the broad transition from PB Kaya’s emotive r&b to Rawch’s charming bars, though – peep how the guitar is incorporated into the drop piece-by-piece before being deconstructed and reincorporated as a weight-bearing layer, or better yet, how the rubbery synth-line peaks the moment the drop hits before quickly diverting into a complimentary sound.

It’s details like these that set apart the men from the boys, so to speak. They may not be noticed by every listener, but they function as the groundwork that keeps the song engaging no matter how much or how little attention is being paid to the song. For a production duo formed only last year, Aftrparty have a seriously fine-tuned method to their music that I hope they maintain moving forward.

While on the topic of musical structures, I’d also like to take a moment to suggest reading Di’s fascinating interview with Max Martin. Its insight into his creative approach has spurred me to pursue better understanding what makes songs like “Hold Me Down” tick.

Point Point – Hands (feat. Denai Moore)

A car floats 1,000 feet above the earth’s surface and the city around it continues to stretch beyond the stratosphere with a decadent silver-and-white glow. A glass platform leads into the nearest building and minimalist décor equates extravagance. In the middle of the entrance stands a pedestal upon which a thixotropic set of hands rests. They shimmer with a subtle ebb and flow that feels human – so obviously synthetic yet, as nuanced as an organic composition.

Maybe it’s because I was reading up on Blade Runner 2049 last night, but the artwork for Point Point’s “Hands” immediately took my mind to a place of pure imagination. Once I digested the music itself, it only elevated my futuristic fantasy further as the track balances such urgency in its lead-synth with lounge-leaning relaxation in Denai Moore’s vocals, each diametrically opposed approach consuming one another in a circular motion like the balance of organic life and its synthetic constructions.

It’s only right that self-proclaimed future pop initiates forward-thinking.

Ben Phipps – Don’t Wake Me Up (ft. Mike Ruby)

“There ain’t no shadows, cause all the lights they glow” is a line that immediately captured my attention while experiencing “Don’t Wake Me Up” on first listen. It specifically conjured up cherished memories of going to New York for the first time as a teenager, a period when I was infatuated with the idea of life in the heart of a metropolis.

In the midst of a blizzard, I was able to experience that heart to the fullest as I trudged through a snow-covered Times Square that provided one of the most dazzling displays of my life. All of the wonderfully colored electronic billboards were magnified through their reflections upon the snow, snow that froze every inch of my body as I stripped my gloves off to text my romantic interest so I could share the moment with them. I’ve yet to experience a moment since then that inspired a comparable awe to that intersection of the technological and the natural.

Mike Ruby’s voice combined with Ben Phipps’ uplifting production makes for the perfect vessel to have taken me back to that moment. Hopefully it’ll inspire similar journeys through the past for others.

Bronze Whale x Popeska – Imagine (JLV Remix)

I’m an absolute sucker for house music that takes it back to the basics, so it’s no surprise that I’m infatuated with JLV’s remix of “Imagine.” Its rubbery lead-synth is an absolute head-nodder while the wonderfully simple percussion conjures up images of feet quickly moving on the dance-floor as strobes flash along in tandem. I love most avenues of electronic music, but tracks like this hit somewhere deep in my stomach and induces flutters like few other genres can, an effect that can be traced directly to an overwhelmingly uplifting energy.

If you’re in a room full of people on the same wavelength, there’s few comparable feelings to watching everyone around you shuffling along with a smile on their face. I’ll never forget hearing cuts like “Work Your Body” drop in a packed venue after an excruciating build-up that releases into pure bliss. In the future, I can very well see JLV’s “Imagine” remix directing audiences into moments of absolute jubilance too.

EMPT Classic: Kanye West – Welcome To Heartbreak ft. Kid Cudi

We posted this track a while back, like way back, normally we would post the original and write something above it, but we are in the future now and I am doing things a little differently with this  EMPT Classic because I really dig the video which we never featured.  The title of the original post was “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.”  Funny enough I am in Los Angeles for a day and a night with my Little Bear and all I want to do is say goodbye.  Don’t get me wrong I am not hating on LA, but this place has too many memories that are still so fresh in my brain that bring me right back every time I am here and I don’t want to think about those memories.  LA and the memories are like a wound that has healed but now I am waiting for the scar to go away too, and as we know, scars don’t always heal.

Thankfully I am staying on the beach in Malibu and I don’t have to be in the heart of Hollywood where most of the ghosts of memories past still lurk.  It’s a beautiful view where I am at and the ocean is right in my ears so I need to go soak it all in before I have to jet in the morning.  Press play on this oldie but goodie.

Grace Mitchell – Now

Grace Mitchell straddles boundaries of sonics and style across time and space without invoking the vapidness that inevitably comes from rehashing a foregone era’s artistic approach; she has the aesthetic of a Woodstock-era rock star alongside a grungy musical ethos, yet I don’t sense pastiche in her that I feel in so many others. That’s likely owed to her ability to filter various modes through the lens of off-kilter pop music that always manages to find itself at an infectious conclusion, one that I can’t imagine another artist in 2017 reaching with such precision.

“Now” is an illustration of her natural versatility as she transitions from quirky pop-rock to an arena-rock cadence before suddenly shifting gears into utterly anthemic pop vocals that send chills down my spine with every listen. Combined with a music video that alternates between Brady Bunch vibes and modern pop sensualité, I’m fascinated by the timelessness she conveys. I’m not usually one to make brash declarations, but her delving into the past just might be a vision for the future.

SIRMA – Free Fall

I have vague memories of listening to Imogen Heap’s “Hide And Seek” by my lonesome late at night during my teenage years, generally overwhelmed with amazement at the piercing chill of her vocoder-laced vocals as woman merged with machine. On the flip-side, I vividly remember the ice-cold nature of LIGHTS’ “February Air” as my breath condensed with every frigid exhale. Both songs and the experiences associated with them were defining moments for my fascination with pop music’s marriage to modern electronics.

SIRMA’s “Free Fall” seems to be the result of foremothers like Imogen Heap and LIGHTS as she injects utterly ethereal vocals into instrumentals that flourish with synthetic life, from the layers of twinkling keys to the programmed, arena-ready percussion featuring fluttering hi-hats aplenty. In an attempt to define this track, even atmospheric would be an understatement as she devises a soundscape that mixes nuanced composition with instantly infectious melodies to borderline perfection.

I’ve listened to “Free Fall” throughout recent LA nights, and while the track is new to the grand scheme of my life, I feel the importance of “Hide And Seek” and “February Air” in its very fibers. I’m ecstatic to see its meaningful potential fulfilled.

Kid Astray – Fall To My Knees

Oh man, first I want to apologize for the lack of posts this past week.  Passover, Easter weekend, Coachella, (No, I didn’t get to go to Coachella!), and on top of all of that I am packing up my house all by myself with a 16 month old needing my attention, plus work.  No excuses tho, nothing should get in the way of giving you all the quantity and quality you deserve, I will make it up to you 😉

I got a nice relaxing weekend in Cali with some fam this past weekend and it fueled me up to kick it into high gear with all of the shit I have to do in the next two weeks.  As relaxing as it was it went by too fast and I was having the weirdest dreams about the past, this life I lived where I was walking on egg shells, too caught up in love, not worrying enough about myself, blah blah blah, you have heard it all from me before so I will spare the details.  I guess those dreams are a reminder of where I am at now.  I am able to completely be myself without being shit on for who I am.  I don’t have to answer to anyone (except my daughter, she is BOSSY!).  Everything is 100% in my control and it feels damn good.

I’ve been going to far pretending and it’s ending.”

That lyric rings true for what the rock bottom of the past looked liked, I was trying to be something for someone that I just wasn’t, but thankfully I found my true self again and remembered what pure joy and happiness was and is.  I like the vibe this track gives off and how it brought me back to the dreams I have been having to do a bit of dissecting.  Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and an amazing time at Coachella if you were lucky enough to go, press play!

QUIX – Riot Call (feat. Nevve) [RTT Premiere]

All I am really in the mood for these days is jams that are getting me ready for the Summer, can you believe it’s almost fucking here?!  EMPT gets to premiere this sexy number thanks to a gal who sends me many wonderful jams such as this by QUIX a New Zealand based producer and Nevve, I am going to have my Summer playlist locked down before Memorial Day weekend!

We have definitely been seeing a lot of “Riot Calls” so to speak in the recent weeks leading up to today, lovely Hype Machine has been booting numerous well received blogs from their site with no explanation and no warning, random folks are being ambushed on commercial airlines, our president is like a 15 year making some childish worldly decisions that will cause us all to flee to some livable planet in space.  I mean honestly I wake up hearing about all this stuff feeling like I am part of some satire movie, it just cannot be real.  It’s music that keeps me at peace with the world, music and my daughter.  My “riot calls” are tracks like this that hopefully get everyone pumped on a positive level of readiness for rooftop parties, new love connections, you name it, as long as it makes you feel good then that is something to riot about!

I need to get packing for my quick trip to Cali this weekend so imma put this baby on repeat to get me pumped and ready for sunshine. xx

NJOMZA – Hear Me

Pink and purple are my favorite colors. When I’m stressed out to the point of crippling anxiety, I imagine myself inhaling those colors until they wash over every inch of my body from the point of stress and outward. I’m not sure where my fascination with those two shades began, but I consciously attempt to surround myself with them; the Super Fly poster in my kitchen, the Anjunabeats banner in my living room, the Banks press kit tacked over my bulletin board, all of them resonate with variations of those shades. Even in the film and gaming content I consume, I constantly find myself magnetized to pink and purple aesthetics.

It’s thus no surprise that my eyes were immediately drawn to NJOMZA’s sad for you artwork. Her eyeshadow, her hair, her lipstick, the single-toned background, my idea of visual perfection all wrapped into a meticulously-crafted photograph. In turn, the colors that are visually present seem to wash through album single “Hear Me” like they do through my anxiety-ridden body, each and every note of the track dripping with purple and pink synth-pop goodness.

I’ve yet to hear sad for you in its entirety, but with the experience “Hear Me” has allowed, it goes without saying that I absolutely cannot wait.