Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday – February 22, 2019

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. We’re back at it again with the latest edition of our series, Feedback Friday. This edition features our contributors: Kristina Dandridge, Patrick Blinkhorn, Justin Barini-Rivers, Alex Rubenstein, and Marshall Stukes. This week’s music includes tracks by Iain Howie, Octo Octa, LUXXURY, Carpenter Brut, and KLP.



Iain Howie – “Living & Dying”


Patrick Blinkhorn – I love the instrumentation, the melodic ideas and the use of reverb space in this track. The vocals sound a bit nasally, but at the same time, they have a Bob Moses vibe to them. The instrumental harmonies accompanying the vocals during the breakdown are gorgeous. All-in-all, this is a compelling, well-produced track. (8.5/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – This is a true deep house track. I love the atmospheric pads and how they envelop the background while the bass does its thing. The placement of wet vocals is cool as well. The arrangement is working for me, although I usually prefer more defined builds and bridges. Iain Howie put together some lovely textures to support this smooth catchy bass line. The arp towards the end is one of my favorites. Headphones or the club, this song will be an enjoyable experience. (8/10)


Kristina Dandridge – This is one of my favorite deep house tracks of the year! I have had this track on repeat for weeks! I am completely enamored with this track because it is so sultry and expressive. There are layers of complexity in the production which showcases the sheer genius of this producer. (10/10)


Marshall Stukes – The kick and the bass complement each other pretty well and the atmospheric build up was great. The weakest part of this track was the vocals in the build up in the middle of the track – I found they didn’t fit to my liking until the were hit with reverb and harmonies. I wish the arp at the end showed up sooner, because I enjoyed it. All-in-all, this song is definitely going in my ‘Chill’ playlist. (7.5/10)


Alex Rubenstein – If I was opening a spa that doubled as a nightclub I would definitely be booking Iain Howie. The vibe of this track is dreamy and ethereal, yet has a nice propulsive backbone to it. The vocals are pleasant enough, but not standout in any way. The synth arpeggio around four minutes in is the highlight of the song and feels like a fitting culmination. Good stuff all around. (7.5/10)



Octo Octa – “I Need You”


Patrick Blinkhorn – The reverb space Octo Octa creates with the vocals and the instrumentals in the intro to the track is gorgeous. I wasn’t expecting that long snare build up to 2:12, but I love the break beat drum pattern that comes in at the end of that drop. Octo Octa displays a masterful use of quiet and energetic sections in the track, all contributing to the fantastic arrangement. What a stellar track – brilliant work. (9/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – This song takes a minute to really get its bearings, but it’s worth the wait. The progressive aspect to the arrangement is beautiful and offers so much tension before the payoff. This song has some nice drums – the breaks move and breathe like real drums should. The drum mix, tucked under vocals and the massive pads, works, but when they allowed for room in the drum mix later in the song, it really pushed the vibe they already created. This song is a journey at over nine minutes. (6/10)


Kristina Dandridge – This track has a cool ambiance, however I am underwhelmed with the production. I yearn for it to open up at about a minute in, but it doesn’t unfold with crashing drums til about 2:17. I also feel like there needs to be more focus in the arrangement because this track is over nine and a half minutes long! (2/10)


Marshall Stukes – I needed to be in a certain space to listen to this track and fully appreciate it. It’s a great tribute to Octo Octa’s family, friends and fans. The thing is that the track is about two minutes too long for my taste. The pads are great, but the percussions don’t really fit with me and I needed more variation. (6.5/10)


Alex Rubenstein – I’m floating through space, time no longer exists, the machine elves are dancing; what is happening? Oh yeah, it’s Octo Octa back at it again, delivering us an otherworldly rave tune. If Terrence McKenna made house music it would probably sound like “I Need You.” This one clocks in at over nine minutes, but it could have gone on for another 10 as far as I’m concerned. Be on the lookout for the For Lovers EP when it drops on March 1st. (9/10)


LUXXURY – “I Need You” (Original Mix)


Patrick Blinkhorn – I’m not a fan of the vocal style, and the vocals sound a bit too up-front in the mix to me at times. I do like the bassline in here, though. The drums and supporting instrumentals are solid too. I particularly love the piano line at 1:52. All this said, the vocals don’t sit well with me, so that will explain the lower score. The vocal harmonies later on in the track are especially a ‘no’ for me. (5.5/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – I’m a sucker for love songs, but this song truly has got it. The bass line and the drums really push me straight into dancing. Disco is some of my favorite music and this is a perfect example of how it can be mixed with house. The lyrics are smooth and work so well to keep me involved in the groove of the track. The delivery is tasteful and occasionally pushes the pocket of the song. I would change nothing about this track. (7/10)


Kristina Dandridge – This nu disco banger is light-hearted and fun! It definitely reminds me of Empire of the Sun, especially with their 2010 hit “We are the People.” Even though this particular track came out in 2017, it still has a sense of relevancy as the years go on. This is the perfect representation of the disco sound of our millennial generation. (10/10)


Marshall Stukes – This is definitely a groove as I dig the disco/80s vibes. The production is pretty good with the keys and bass coming out really well. I wish the vocals had a little extra to them, but they fit the track nicely. (7.5/10)


Alex Rubenstein – We have two very different interpretations of the title “I Need You” this week. LUXXURY’s take gives us some quintessential nu-disco flavor with Nile Rodgers-esque guitar licks and funky bass included. I’m not 100% sold on the vocals here, but I can’t deny their catchiness. We are nowhere near peak time on this one, but it certainly has its place. A crowd pleaser, I’m sure. (6/10)



Carpenter Brut – “Hush Sally, Hush!”


Patrick Blinkhorn – I love the 80s vibes in this track – from the lush synths to the big drum sounds, this track bleeds 80s neon. The eerie synth solo around the 2 min mark doesn’t really work for me though, and I think it drags on too long. The track as a whole dragged on too long and lacked a clear direction, I think. (6/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – Carpenter Brut have this sound so dialed by now its ‘press play’ jams these days. This one is a little more downtempo than some of my favorite stuff by them. For example, “Leather Teeth” pushes the tempo, but this is almost a slow jam. I’m getting some heavy Kavinsky vibes with the deeper style of electro sound. I love that the momentum is strong, even with the slow tempo. Overall, very happy with this song and Carpenter Brut. (10/10)


Kristina Dandridge – Wow, that reverb in the drums is so fine! Dare I classify this macabre hit as retro wave? Honestly, I’ve had the most frustrating debates with people who are all about this genre because I feel like I don’t know whether to call this synthwave, retrowave, darkwave or some other variation. Bottom line, a genre is just a label and this track is one seriously sexy hit! (10/10)


Marshall Stukes – This track is a slowed down version of Carpenter Brut’s “Run Sally, Run!” It’s a welcomed addition and a great callback to the Trilogy days. The song perfectly gives off a creepy 80s atmosphere and gets into darker territory in the latter half of the track. The use of arpeggios, leads, choir pads and bass puts this as one of my favorite slow tempo synthwave tracks. (9/10)


Alex Rubenstein – If I somehow became a professional Laser Tag player this would probably be the soundtrack to my highlight reel. This track is glossy as hell and completely neon-soaked. Can Season 3 of Stranger Things be set in Vice City? With that being said, this track feels like a journey – it’s just not a journey I necessarily want to go on. (5/10)



KLP – “Under the Influence” (feat. Kilian & Jo)


Patrick Blinkhorn – Nice club-oriented bass synth sound – same deal with the other synth sounds. I like that the drums are very purposefully placed. The vocals kill this track – they are too stylistically commercial-dance for me. (4/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – It’s no secret I love KLP, especially over the last few releases. KLP has got this house track dialed for the club, but it’s arrangement is more complex than that. The kick and the bass/low end in this song is amazing. The tone and power is coming straight from that bass line, and it’s so dope. The accent synth is so simple, yet it adds so much. KLP has a way of having sneaky arrangements, building out mini breaks to hit you with even more punch after a kick is dropped. Honestly, there isn’t a KLP song in the last year that hasn’t done the job for me. I’m still trying to figure out what she’s up to in the studio; her last tune, “Venus x Mars,” and this song are both pushing very cool ideas and sounds. (9/10)


Kristina Dandridge – I like this track. I don’t love it. I like it because the production is totally fire. I don’t love it because this dark pop style a la Billie Eilish is starting to get a bit overplayed this year. It sounds so familiar and not particularly unique to me. (5/10)


Marshall Stukes – The production and mixing in this song is top notch. The variation in the beat, the vocals and the lyrics are all really good. The track makes me want to bob my head and get into the zone. (8/10)


Alex Rubenstein – Simply put, this beat knocks. The vocals are sexy too. Not much else to be said, I fucks wit it. (8/10)



The Results:


Iain Howie – “Living & Dying”  (8.3/10)

Carpenter Brut – “Hush Sally, Hush!”  (8/10)

LUXXURY – “I Need You” (Original Mix)  (7.2/10)

KLP – “Under The Influence” (Feat. Kilian & Jo)  (6.8/10)

Octo Octa – “I Need You”  (6.5/10)