Review Summary: Magic.
Neo romantic pop. Learn it by heart. It’s a genre that should have already broken out and even if it hasn’t yet, promises to be at the threshold of doing so. And oh yeah, it was coined by two dudes in a basement. So what type of music is it? It’s pretty self explanatory actually: supposedly accessible pop music with modern influences of electronica and techno that manages to chart some very bizarre musical territory from jazz to oriental, from latino to 60s British pop a la the Beatles and at the same time being steeped in emotion making it romantic the way Wordsworth, Byron and Tennyson were, all of which is mixed frantically and chaotically in a pot amalgamated into this… this … goo boiling away over the fire. Here’s the strange part, it works. And oddly enough in the case of proponents of this confusing genre, Whiteroom
and in particular their self titled debut, it’s nothing short of magic.
For the uninitiated, Whiteroom is basically the two dudes in the basement with a bunch of computers, soundcards, speakers, amps, keyboards and no contact with the outside world. And what they’ve managed to create is an album full of great melodies, hooks and a fair share of moments that just give you goose bumps: the entry of the piano and the drum track over the oriental violin on Ender
, the ending piano over drums of Enma’s Bridge
, the intro to Papillons
each just takes you off guard and turns each of these songs into something very special indeed.
And no song really disappoints. Each of the twelve songs and four filler tracks on this roller coaster ride lasting one song more than an hour takes you on a memorable journey through countries less traveled and paths less traversed. And this album loves to travel. From the latino stylings of Barrio Chino
, to the samba steeped melody of Puppeteering
, to the Oriental love affair in Papillons
, the songs globetrot generously.
Certain special mentions are warranted here. Papillons
is one such track. Right from the opening drum roll as the instruments begin their pummeling, you know you’re hearing something you don’t get to too often. The intro to the song explodes onto the silent sonic canvas with a burst of color one would expect from just throwing a bunch of paint cans at a real one. And it never lets down, right to the very end, by which time you’re getting used to the eclectic instrumentation dishing out oriental influences with thrift and flair on display through the song, when smoothly yet completely surprisingly it goes into a… rant … of electronica. Beautiful.
The other one is Ender
which starts of with some sort of Chinese carnival fanfare before settling down to the haunting strain of a lone Chinese Violin (it’s supposedly only a two stringed instrument). And then the piano and drums creep up on you from nowhere and that just elevates the song to irrefutably sublime. The song keeps the emotion throughout, which in itself is an arduous task considering how high the intro sets the bar, and throws a small twist at the end something akin to Papillons.
If I did have a criticism of the album it’s that it leaves you confused. It goes through so many genres and influences so quickly it almost feels schizophrenic. Listening to so much in so little a time actually starts to tire you a bit and therefore, as an album, this can be a bit difficult to sit through even though each song individually is very good in its own right. The other thing is that the samba and latino influences, though pulled off well, aren’t executed with the same flair as the other genres they tackle. They just about fail to stand up to the other material present on this album. Only just.
There’s a reason this review looks like its drooling all over the album. I don’t know if the fact that this was a free download made this more enjoyable, since it bore no weight of any expectations. I would like to think not. These are a couple of guys who, in my humble opinion, deserve more people listening to them for no other reason that good music to a music lover can always help make their day better, no matter how good it already is. In that fashion, I’m a philanthropist. But that’s all my intention is here. To get people who like good music to listen to some stuff that I found and immensely enjoyed. I won’t guarantee that you’ll like it … it’s an opinion after all. However, considering the type of music and how rarely we get to hear something this different and out there these days, I think it deserves a listening and an opinion. I hope you enjoy it and it puts a smile on your face the way it did mine.
If interested Download the album at: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/4244