Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. Back at it again with the latest edition of our series, Feedback Friday. This week, our group of Blisspop contributors includes: Alex Rubenstein, Justin-Barini Rivers, Kristina Westernik, Jonathan Sherman, and Connor McInerney. This week’s music includes tracks by Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois, DAWN x Mumdance, Steve Angello, Laarsen, and Perel. Check it out below and send us your suggestions for future Feedback Fridays on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois – “HpShk5050 P127”
Alex Rubenstein – The ethereal, skittering ambiance of this track makes me feel like I am taking a stroll through The Dreaming, a place we’ve all been, but don’t quite know how to get to. I wouldn’t have listened to this track on my own, but am certainly glad I have. I wish it was longer, but the short length fits with the fleeting nature of this song. Great pairing here, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more. (8.5/10)
Justin Barini-Rivers – I am a fan of the track title as it reminds me of Aphex Twin. After a listen you will realize the title was a good choice. It’s got everything about experimental music I like. Those high end snare sounds that crack. Those awesome Burial-style reverbs behind some of the percussion. It’s building heavy textures then these snares and breaks roll thru like a tsunami out of nowhere then back to the bottom of the noise floor. The dynamic range in this track is quite lovely and would have a lovely place in any experimental collection. (7.5/10)
Kristina Westernik – These lovely downtempo vibes that are right up my alley. This song is characteristically downtempo with lo-fi trap beats featuring intermittent glitchy spurts of musical energy. I feel totally captivated in the sonic experience although it’s not destined for the casual listener. This track deserves undivided attention, else don’t bother. (7.5/10)
Jonathan Sherman – When listening to this track, I was really cued into the vibrancy of the sounds, the syncopation of the beat, and the creativity of each phrase. Sadly, however, I could not get hooked on this track. I found the melody to lack a clear story line and the harmony to be missing critical elements that hook a listener into returning to listen for more. Furthermore, I appreciate the track’s syncopation, but it appeared the drums were a little too off beat in particular places. I’m sure Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois are fantastic musicians, but this track just doesn’t cut it for me. (2/10)
Connor McInerney – I’m not gonna lie, the uneven nature of this track’s stumbling tempo and its haphazard, makeshift name gives me a serious Aphex Twin vibe and I’m loving it. This track’s intentionally disorienting nature paired with really cool, ambient synth leads, culminating with an explosion of percussion all contribute to a sound that is inherently difficult, undanceable music – which in this case is a good thing. All around just an interesting and engrossing romp. (8/10)
DAWN x Mumdance – “Guardian Angel”
Alex Rubenstein – DAWN’s career has been on a consistent upward trend since her days in Danity Kane and seems to reach peak potential when releasing on and collaborating with London based label, Local Action. Her vocal chops are on full display here amid a bevy of strings that I would not have expected to come from Mumdance. Part of me absolutely loves this, but there is a part of me that feels like this is approaching cheesy movie tie-in territory. Either way, this is a solid pop offering from two immense talents. (7/10)
Justin Barini-Rivers – Right from the opening I love the tempo and the big strings. The vocalist is beyond killing the track. This style of track is usually not my cup of tea. Her takes feel so genuine. It’s as if she is talking to you and not singing. This is an amazing piece of art. The detail and musicianship should keep you going through the track if you aren’t already addicted to her voice. (7/10)
Kristina Westernik – Excellent songwriting with those strings- it’s oh so prominent! Honestly, this track is a violinist’s wet dream. The production is flawless. The lyricism captivates my soul. I am so glad I had the pleasure of listening to this song. (10/10)
Jonathan Sherman – After listening to DAWN and Mumdance’s “Guardian Angel,” I’m a huge fan of the vocals and how soft, yet impactful they are. This track is a fantastic combination of future bass, chill pop, and house, and is very catchy at certain points in its phrasing. The track flows very nicely for the first 2 minutes, but then includes awkward progressive house and piano solo parts at the tail end that don’t appear to integrate well with the rest of the track. Would love to see the end of the track reworked, but a huge fan, and look forward to hearing more from DAWN and Mumdance. (7/10)
Connor McInerney – Jesus a lot of strings in this week’s picks. I don’t know how a pop song with so many organic elements can end up feeling contrived and artificial but here we are. “Guardian Angel’s” bridge helps break the track’s pop-laden monotony with a key change but this really isn’t my bag. (3/10)
Perel – “Si”
Alex Rubenstein – This sounds like Arca and Shpongle fucked and produced a bad acid trip. I can see the machine elves taunting me now. Thanks, but no thanks. (2/10)
Justin Barini-Rivers – Perel released this immersive track on DFA Records. Let this banger develop in the four on the floor monster that it is. The kick and those drums is honestly enough for me. The arpeggio does most of the sonic lifting, but there is a eerie pluck that slides in towards that back that is worth waiting for. Perel keeps her sound tight in the track, but allows the synths to meander a bit through the rolling drums. A solid track that I will be playing at my next set. (10/10)
Kristina Westernik – This is obviously a quality track. The song has an excellent acid bass presence with experimental minor scales. The only points off are for the vocal sampling which slightly creeps me out. But it’s not a deal breaker. This is perfect for the listener who craves a mind altering experience. (6.5/10)
Jonathan Sherman – For Perel’s song “Si,” I really enjoyed the subtle harmonics woven into the harmony of the track. I thought there were some decisions Perel made on the track that really spoke to her synth wave roots and some elements that could have flowed better or where the harmony could have been brighter. I found the phrasing on this track to be slightly mismatched, but the melody to be very eclectic and unique. I look forward to hearing more from Perel in the future. (5/10)
Connor McInerney – You know, I always wanted to join an experimental electronic sex cult with an Eastern Religions-based faith component and this would be the perfect soundtrack for our first meeting. While the melodic components of this track leave a bit to be desired (the synth lead that starts two minutes in almost feels like a Egyptian trope), I’m really digging the incantation “Si” and how it essentially permeates the track. Is she saying “yes” or “if” in Spanish? I can’t tell but damn if it isn’t spooky. (7.5/10)
Laarsen – “Peace of Mind”
Alex Rubenstein – I love violin in electronic tracks (I see you, Kristina) and this executes its dreamy vision really well. Somehow, it sounds like the soundtrack to my favorite Mega Man level that doesn’t exist. Nice one, Laarsen! (7.5/10)
Justin Barini-Rivers – The half time intro with these Branchez-esque drum fills has me full of feels. The use of the sample seems to be a little static for my taste, but I do enjoy them. The drums really have me locked in. The drums fills are top notch. The kick is moving through the arrangement doing what it wants. The song is chill, but as far as complexity I really wanted one more layer. Although I doubt that was the intention of the creator. It’s short and sweet definitely worth a play in the car with the windows down. (6.5/10)
Kristina Westernik – From a producer standpoint, it hits all the marks. Impeccable sampling and automation. Top notch, mate! Especially the transitions at 0:33 seconds… so flawless! I am also partial to the punchy trap beats and string sampling peppered throughout the song. (9/10)
Jonathan Sherman – When listening to Laarsen’s “Peace of Mind,” I really enjoyed the violin loop embedded in the melody of track. I thought the harmonics of the piece were very creative and there is a really emphasis with this track on stretching the limits of how to intertwine the classic string sound with an electric touch. Would love to see this track expanded to combine with elements from progressive, future, or soulful house, and look forward to seeing more from Laarsen down the road. (6/10)
Connor McInerney – “Peace of Mind” is a bit oversaturated in terms of treble elements – I’m not really vibing with this simultaneous string and pitched-up vocal sample pairing. The second half of the track, wherein Laarsen relies more on a dynamic range of sounds, does help balance it out to end on a high note. (5/10)
Steve Angello – “Paradiso”
Alex Rubenstein – I can see how some people would be really into this type of music, but to me it just feels like Aerodynamic by Daft Punk, but stripped of all of the rawness. I don’t think there is enough MDMA in the world to get me fist-pumping in a confetti storm to this. (1/10)
Justin Barini-Rivers – I haven’t had time to listen to Steve Angello in quite some time, so this was a nice refresher in all things Swedish. The arrangement is lacking a bit, but that’s because it is Steve Angello. The venues and crowds he plays for dictates a very rigid build drop schedule on his songs. I do enjoy talking trash, but beyond some weaknesses in the arrangement the sound design is solid. The snare feels as though its intensity could be brought back to at least the level of the arpeggio lead, but we all know this track isn’t for me. I’ll give him points for the feels, but not for the execution. (6/10)
Kristina Westernik – It pumps and drives like a Mario Kart speedway race. I appreciate all the builds and rises. The arpeggios propels the track forward into territory reminiscent of Bloody Beetroots or Afrojack. Get in your car and bump this shit! This is EDM at it’s finest! (7.5/10)
Jonathan Sherman – A former member of the Progressive House super group “Swedish House Mafia,” Steve Angello released his highly-anticipated album “Human” last week that includes a combination of house, techno, and disco tracks. Here we are highlighting the track “Paradiso” on his album which serves up as a unique combination of disco and progressive house. Invoking the use of 70s inspired modular synthesizers, Angello reignites a sound on Paradiso that is reminiscent of yesterday’s synth pop and disco superstars like Giorgio Moroder and Eurythmics with techno and tech house legends like Carl Cox and Nicole Moudaber. I look forward to seeing the success that comes from Angello’s latest release. (7/10)
Connor McInerney – You know it’s hard to get into a simple square lead and basic arpeggio, but if the sonic positivity of this track doesn’t make you smile during the build I don’t know what will. Steve Angello seems to find beauty in simplicity that lets him craft sweet, danceable jams. There’s wisdom in the adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and “Paradiso” embodies that ethos. (7/10)
The Winners and Losers:
DAWN x Mumdance – “Guardian Angel” – 6.8 (TIE)
Laarsen – “Peace of Mind” – 6.8 (TIE)
Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois – “HpShk5050 P127” – 6.7
Perel – “Si” – 6.2
Steve Angello – “Paradiso” – 5.7
Jonathan Sherman is a Blisspop Staff Writer who publishes features on popular disco, house, and hip-hop tracks and conducts reviews for local performances. He is also a DJ/Producer in the Indie Dance/Nu Disco genre who frequently performs at popular D.C. venues like U Street Music Hall, 9:30 Club Backbar, Flash, Soundcheck, and Hamilton Live.
Connor McInerney is a DC-based music and culture writer. External to contributing to Blisspop, he is also a Staff Writer with D.C. Music Download where he has covered developments in DC’s music scene since 2015. He anxiously awaits the day in which we enter a post-genre society.
Kristina Westernik is the Chill Out Writer for Blisspop. She is also a classically-trained violinist and produces downtempo chill music as electronicviolinist.
Justin Barini-Rivershas been a DJ, producer, audio engineer, and consultant for over a decade. He has quite the collection of disco records pre-1979 and produces music under the moniker standingonstardust.
Alex Rubenstein is the manager of Blisspop.com and lifelong Washington, D.C. area resident.