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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sean Byrd - "Always Was"

Artist: Sean Byrd
Album: Always Was
Year: 2012
Label: Plastic Sound Supply
Genre: Electronic, Ambient, Dubstep
Website: http://www.plasticsoundsupply.com/




Don't know anything about this guy. According to discogs.com he has released some Tech House vinyls. I had no idea what to expect going into this, and ended up being blown away. Plastic Sound Supply, a relatively unknown label out of Denver CO, delivers hugely again. It's a bit hard to classify this album; if I had to attempt to do so, I would say that it sits somewhere within the boundaries of cinematic downtempo dubstep with DNB and IDM influence.

Good stuff:
+ The first things that caught my attention were the absolutely beautiful melodic elements. Each track contains several layers of such elegant content; typically a looping, hypnotic, plucky melody over top of layers of slowly moving pads. These are quite catchy and have a very dreamy and nostalgic feel to them. Think of the more visionary side of melodic IDM.

+ The basslines, which harken to the ever-present dubstep genre. I am not really a fan of dubstep, but Sean Byrd delivers some well crafted, subdued basslines (no brostep!) which fit quite well into these pieces. These basses have that neat modulating sound that makes me think of bubbling mutating textures, and inject fluidity & movement into their respective track. Thankfully, the basslines here serve more to accent the track rather than take it over; as such, they are more in line with Kryptic Minds, Breakage, Mobthrow, or your low key atmospheric dubstep of choice.
+ Extremely atmospheric. The thing that attracted me to the 'first wave' of dubstep (Burial, Skream, etc) was the major focus on (dark) atmospheres. Unfortunately that trend was replaced by vapid club jams, but thankfully Always Was continues the tradition. While it's not particularly dark, one of the main focuses of the album certainly is atmosphere. These pieces succeed in being able to mentally transport to you to a variety of ethereal, alternate universes.
+ I love the beats on this record. They are somewhere in between subdued old school jungle, older dubstep, and IDM. They've got great groove and mingle in just the right ways with the melodic elements, without ever getting too up front. The kick is just the right level, the groovy rolling hats that get your brain moving, and the IDM clicks & pops which challenge your synapses a bit. Tracks like "If I Fall Through" remind me of highly talented modern IDM acts like c.db.sn, while others such as "Woke Up Missing You" have a more DNB slant, similar perhaps to LTJ Bukem, who is one of my favorite DNB producers.
+ The production is really tight, clean, and spacious; with additionally solid mastering by Twerk (AudibleOddities). Much respect for Plastic Sound Supply for throwing down for really top notch mastering for their releases!

Bad stuff:
- May just be the way these speakers deal with subbass, but the kick on "What To Say" seems to overpower the entire track (very heavy "pumping") and whenever it hits it drowns out everything else. There is some really gorgeous stuff happening here and it's a shame to miss it.

A very pleasant, hypnotic record that is easy to get sucked in to and hard to turn off. This is a highly accessible record that successfully utilizes elements of popular electronic music and crafts them into something unique and memorable. This record certainly has cross over appeal and I would recommend it to all fans of melodic, cultured electronic music. Don't miss it!

Overall Rating: 9/10

1 comment:

Andrew Evenstar said...

Thanks for the review, I downloaded this album and it's very enjoyable :)