Review Summary: Sitting under a freeway bridge on a rainy day while in another state of mind.
It was inevitable for me to listen to XXYYXX because I was browsing through YouTube like a usual day when a giant Eye of Providence thumbnail ends up staring me down so blatantly that I was enticed to click on the video of his full album. After avidly listening to this album for the better part of 2 years, I must say that clicking on the video was definitely worth my time and has helped me appreciate ambient music immensely. The sole member of XXYYXX, Marcel Everett, has immaculately grasped the attention of both critics and stoners with his sophomore self titled album, and the attraction is understandable considering how much the style of each track differentiates from the last one so elegantly. The idea that drives me crazy, though, is that he is nineteen years old!
The album opener is usually my make or break, and there is usually two ways that the opening can go: it can grab my attention in an instant, or it can be weaker than rubbish. Either way it goes, the opening will shape my opinion on the album's ability to execute certain emotions into my mind. With “About You”, the fluctuating, 2-part harmony synth interestingly caused me to feel waves flowing up and down. Soon, the reversed sample from a soft voiced female skulked in and put off a very eerie yet soothing tone. Full-on drum and bass kicked in a little later, and at that point, I was sold, as the ingredients of “About You” had collided in the most fulfilling manner possible. After that, the intensity increased exponentially when more harmonizing, buzzing synth rang through with a deeper bass kick, leading me to feel almost overwhelmed by the vibrations tremoring through my head. At the end of it all, the synth cuts off, leaving only the female sample along with a slightly ominous bass note flickering in and out of the background. The whole predicament left me with a slightly disturbed feeling in my conscious, but an amazing case of the jitters through my limbs. Everett's opening track grasps the true perplexity of his album, and the feeling projected from the track truly entraps the listener, causing them to want to hear more related to this style.
XXYYXX forces one to think about how exquisite he threw simple samples, beats, and synth together. Each track contains at most 3 parts, yet the kicker is the way the aura of the music is created. Some songs can sound like they were recorded in a cathedral while others can spawn a sense of seclusion. “Fields” sounds like if someone were to play music out loud in a abandoned warehouse. “DMT” kept popping thoughts of cult leaders dancing around a fire in Hell in my head, but “Witching Hour” deliberately alludes to Satan with a sample of someone explaining why he talks to the devil, yet never finishes his sentence (interpret that however you wish). A very strong point in the album is “Tied2U”, which mimics the cackling of a vinyl accurately and does the drum and bass so much justice. The placing of tracks is extremely effective and creates a chilling outcome at the end of the LP.
The flaws of XXYYXX are minimal to none, depending on how much of a fanatic you are of EDM/ambient. A bit of the album stays on a melancholy vibe near the middle and uses many high and low pitch-modified samples, which will estrange a few listeners. If neither of these elements bother you, XXYYXX is worth the listen, as it has kept me interested ever since it first came to my attention. Though it may not be a classic, Marcel Everett captured many ears with his ability to effectively create environments and emotions by stimulating the brain in a precise way.