Review Summary: A showcase of 808s.Instant Alpha
is consummately contemporary. Even the name promotes the album’s novelty - “instant alpha” seems to suggest something just released, some new product aimed at unsettling the current market. This “unsettling” is exactly what Feadz achieves on his newest effort, weaving a twisted journey through a forest of 808s while exploring intimidating, barely-charted regions of his loosely hip-hop-affiliated realm. The vitality of the album is easily explained by its wondrously effervescent demeanor - everything done here is done large
. The vodka-saturated chords and mammoth, drug-addled claps and clicks of “Papercut” rush straight into the pensive, disorienting waves of synth leads in “Metaman,” demonstrating the pull-no-punches attitude Feadz employs.
Even the most accessible on Instant Alpha
is loaded with edge. Take probable lead single “Electric Empire” and Kito’s swaggering vocals over the elaborately distorted lead synths. It’s representative of what big, thunderous trap should be in 2014 - we’re at the point where the market is so oversaturated with simplistic basslines and boring leads that a successful artist needs something cutting to establish himself. It’s what Feadz is aiming to do with Instant Alpha, and in general the loping synths color the project quite nicely - just look at the middle stretch, where the producer gallops past typically bland hip-hop beats into the realm of 808-driven house (“Instant Delta”) and footwork-esque kicks and claps (“Eastside”).
While at times the whole thing is a touch too gaudy for its own good (one can only listen to “Instant Beta” so many times in one sitting), in general Instant Alpha
is characterized by how forward-thinking and varied Feadz’s beat treatment comes off. Really, the only thread tying the release together is the consistently large bass, whether forceful kicks or warped low end, and the splendid diversity of tracks the veteran producer has compiled reflects the producer’s confidence. The ravey “Wettex,” complete with quintessential ‘80s-house-styled soul vocals, is exemplary of the album’s impressive traversal of genres - as opposed to the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none artist albums so prevalent in modern electronic music, Feadz understands his grounding in the scene and uses his vast knowledge of his surroundings to craft a transportive experience no matter the tempo of his booming kicks. Hell, even when he’s entering the unforgiving realm of scratch-centric hip-hop, Feadz still manages to give his frenetic breakbeats a prominent yet unintrusive position.
And, somewhat shockingly, the whole thing works
. The grooving, shuffling “Eastside” sounds positively vivacious, destined for life on a blaring speaker system, and the penetrating “Marly” is a splendidly frenzied take on bangin’ rap beats. Though there’s just something off
about the whole thing, as though it’s a collection of loosely tied songs instead of a comprehensive album, by and large Instant Alpha
is a success. It will hopefully come as a necessary call to arms for the stagnating instrumental hip-hop sound, nudging it back to life, but even if it fails in that regard it’s still an admirable kickoff to what’ll hopefully be another jam-packed year of bass-heavy dance music.