Review Summary: A remarkable début from a young musician sure to make waves in the future.
Sometimes, the combination of two seemingly incompatible things is surprisingly amazing. Next time you’re craving some peanut butter, instead of going for a boring PB and J sandwich, leave that jam in the fridge and grab the mustard instead. “Ewwwwww,” right" Wrong. Peanut butter and mustard is the greatest and most ingenious peanut butter based discovery since Mr. Reese combined it with chocolate. If you’ve never done this before then just trust me and try it out. Right now. I’ll wait. It was awesome, wasn’t it" Don’t lie, it was awesome; I know it was. What iNTRiKeT offers us with this, his debut EP, is a listening experience similar to the tasting experience that I’ve just forced upon you.
On paper it sounds like an absolutely dreadful idea. With Songs For Sleepy
, amateur dubstep/drum-and-bass/whatever-the-hell-he-feels-like producer Josh Frazer mixes in soothing ambient soundscapes with dirty sub-bass and obtrusive, in your face dubstep and drum-and-bass beats. What results is a unique journey through the often stagnant genre that is dubstep. Granted, there are several spots on the EP that could have benefitted from a bit more separation between the calming ambient sounds and the filthy sub-bass lines. However, the majority of the material found here serves as an example of how to combine two vastly different styles without letting one overshadow the other. iNTRiKeT displays that he knows when to let the clean guitar lines and soothing keyboard textures take centre-stage, most notably on the title track.
There is also a substantial amount of variety to be found on the EP, not something that can be said about a lot of amateur producers’ debuts. Most of the album is based on the dubstep two-step beat but every so often iNTRiKeT instead opts for the faster drum-and-bass beat. This isn’t done randomly though, of course. Great care is taken to match the accompanying music with the fitting tempo, giving each track its own distinct identity (the best example of this is probably Clouds of Snow
). The final result is a 29-minute EP that flies by in what seems like half that time and begs you to give it several consecutive listens.
Specific highlights are a little hard to pinpoint because special moments are scattered throughout each of the six tracks. One that immediately comes to mind is the eerie piano line of the penultimate track Last Night
which iNTRiKeT pairs expertly with some filthy sub-bass and excellent acoustic guitar parts. Once again, each aspect of the music is allowed to shine here. By dropping the bass line and beat in and out at various different points of the track, iNTRiKeT allows the listener to appreciate the full spectrum of his musical talent.
But, the undeniable highlight of the album is the last track. iNTRiKeT somehow got the brilliant idea to remix on of the greatest folk songs ever recorded, Mountain Man’s Animal Tracks
. (Seriously, whoever came up with that idea must be a super-genius.) Again, this sounds like an awful idea: combining acoustic guitars and folky female vocals with a dirty bass line. But, again, iNTRiKeT pulls it off wonderfully. As the bass rattles around in the classic filthstep style, the marvellous vocals from the ladies of Mountain Man offer a counterpoint and tie the track together. Perhaps more than any other track on the EP, great care is taken to ensure that nothing gets in the way of the listener enjoying either of the musical styles on display.
Of course, the album is not perfect. But for a debut release that is merely a collection of tracks, many of which have been kicking around in some form or another for over six months, ‘Songs For Sleepy’ is a remarkable accomplishment and one that showcases a musician with endless potential. Some might say that iNTRiKeT would be well-advised to pick a genre or style and fine-tune his skills in that area instead of jumping all over the musical map, and they wouldn’t be out of line saying so. But with a little refinement and experience, iNTRiKeT could perfect this distinct sound and carve a refreshingly unique niche for himself in the often stagnant genre that is dubstep. ‘Songs For Sleepy’ is the debut of a rising young musical talent. His influences are on full display and while he perhaps indulges in them a little too heavily at times, the potential shown here is extraordinary. Remember the name “Josh Frazer,” because I have a feeling we’ll be hearing excellent, unique music from him for years to come.