Blisspop Premiere – Tribe 20:4 “Sober”

TRIBE 20:4 describe themselves as “a community of creatives focused on cultivating sounds inspired by the natural elements and on enhancing emotional well-being.” Each member of the group (from San Diego: Zuma., Tojou, Johnny 光 and PavenB, alongside impakt from NYC) has solid credits to their name, though none has found real widespread notoriety as yet. Frequent collaborations like this can be a wellspring of inspiration for budding producers, not to mention convenient opportunities to multiply creative networks.

And yet it sounds to me like TRIBE 20:4 have come together for a better reason: they’ve got a great sound here. I’d love to know how the creative process played out for these four producers, especially given their bicoastal living situations. You might think that four cooks would spoil the pot, but that’s definitely not the case here. Their first offering as a collective, “Sober,” is a strong, well-developed piece of modern electronic r&b, and I’m proud to debut it here at Blisspop.

“Sober” caught my ear on the first listen, due in no small part to Toujou’s vocals and Johnny Wang’s engineering work. From the instrumentation all the way down to the mixing decisions, the production seems like a series of clever references to the lyrical content. The singer delivers bitter lyrics sweetly, lamenting his inability to commit to a love interest over a sea of reverb, emphasizing the spacey, shiftless, and lonely mood that his musings on the impermanence of his romantic encounters evoke.

Meanwhile, the sparse arrangement makes “Sober” feel empty, almost incomplete. But I’m a sucker for a plucked arpeggio, especially over the quick percussion and artfully dodging snares timed just so. The instrumental oozes confidence in its component parts — the sliding, playful 808s have plenty of room to breathe, while pleasant keys and washed-out adlibs play nicely over a sophisticated chord progression.

If you like “Sober” as much as I do, follow TRIBE 20:4 on Soundcloud.