Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday – May 24th, 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: Alvaro Hernandez, Justin Barini-Rivers, Alex Rubenstein, Katie Bowles, and Aeron Premo. This week’s music includes tracks by Jex Opolis, GoldLink, Levitate, Holly Herndon, and Cosmin TRG.




Jex Opolis – “Desolation”



Aeron Premo – Jex had to have been listening to tons of 80s, Italo spacesynth when making this track because the influence is very apparent. Just listen to a song such as “Shotgun (Into The Night),” by Laserdance, and you’ll get what I’m talking about. Jex’s knowledge of vintage synths is top notch – the melody, particularly the chorus, is fantastic. The arpeggiator and bass lines are also quite effective. I’m really loving that pad break around 2:50. My only complaint is that the vocal production is a bit wobbly, but it’s the synth work that truly makes this track work. (8.5/10)


Katie Bowles – This song is SO 80s. I like it, but I kept expecting more. I liked the vocals the first time around, but as they repeated, I lost interest. I liked the breakdown starting at 3:30, but after awhile I had enough of that, too. I definitely don’t dislike this song (by far), but I wanted more out of it. (6/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – The bass and vocals are my favorite part of this record; everything else seems to fall to the background. This is some of the best production I have heard in the Italo genre so I am happy with this track overall. I would say it’s outside of my sphere for club tracks, but I could definitely see it doing well. I am a bit lost around the halfway mark, but I am back into it once the four on the floor pattern appears. Overall, a very cool mix for those Italo nights. (6/10)


Alvaro Hernandez – There is nothing quite like the bassline of an Italo jam, and Jex Opolis hits the feel-good factor of the style right on the dot. By blending dreamy synth lines with a catchy vocal, this becomes a must-have for Disco DJs. (8/10)


Alex Rubenstein – For the style, this is a supremely produced example of fun, throwback, Italo synthesizer magic. It seems like each week on Feedback Friday we get at least one production submission that is so undoubtedly indebted to the 1980’s; we have certainly found that early on with Jax Opolis’ “Desolation.” For such a happy sounding tune, the titling does not really resonate with me. Anyhow, the lovely pads, the creamy bassline and the smoothly fitting vocals total up to a win. Regardless, I would have purchased this on vinyl for the artwork and the fact that it came out on Dekmantel so they had me from jump. (8/10)



GoldLink – “Zulu Screams” (feat. Maleek Berry and Bibi Bourelly)



Aeron Premo – GoldLink has done a great job putting D.C. hip hop on the map, but this track doesn’t really utilize his talents in the best way. I think the production is smooth, and the melody and beat are pleasant enough, but the Akon-esque vocal style has long worn out its welcome. It just sounds like a bog standard EDM-lite track to me. (2/10)


Katie Bowles – For whatever reason, it’s taken me awhile to get into GoldLink; I love that he’s a D.C. guy making it happen, but I just never really felt his music. This track might change that. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with the vocals at the beginning, but as soon as the fast beat, combined with GoldLink’s relaxed-but-so-fast (he makes it seem easy!) lyrics, dropped in I was hooked. This song has an almost hypnotic quality, I only wish it was longer. (9/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – GoldLink has always had the production and skills to kill a record,but I never expected this. There’s tons of little gems all over this track. The bass in particular has a lovely filter moving up on it, and I love the drums and the overall sound design – obviously, GoldLink kills it.  I would play this several times to catch all the vibes on this tune. (9/10)


Alvaro Hernandez – The introduction had me in the dark, but as soon as that infectious rhythm came into the spotlight, I was hooked. GoldLink has created a song that will get even the most stubborn of wallflowers out on the floor and giving it their all. (8.5/10)


Alex Rubenstein – Somehow, I have managed to completely overlook GoldLink since he came on the map a few years back.  This is even despite him helping to really put the DMV hip-hop scene on the national radar, providing a counterpoint to the endless Atlanta, NYC, California, Florida or Houston conversations. GoldLink effortlessly rides the beat of “Zulu Screams,”which is produced by the very talented P2J, eschewing the typical verse/chorus x3 format of most popular hip-hop and music in general today. The track also sees Maleek Berry and Bibi Bourelly coming along for the ride, and it definitely benefits from their presence. I have had this on repeat for a good while now and am very happy with this being included this week. Big up GoldLink and D.C. in general! (9/10)



LEVITATE – “Drowning”



Aeron Premo – There are some interesting vocal processing effects in the beginning, but that was about all I liked. The arrangement was just too choppy for me to really enjoy listening to this. Next, please. (1/10)


Katie Bowles – Oohhh, I like this one. Initially, I didn’t think all the seemingly random pieces would fit together, but after the drop at 0:50, I realized that made me like it even more. The disjointed feel of the track kept me interested and, ultimately, came together really well. (8/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – LEVITATE is an amazing artist who creates a wild and detailed landscape in his visual and musical efforts. This recent release is my favorite of his songs. I have listened to it around 50 times. This song really pushes what people want to consider music. The experimental nature will turn off some, but honestly, I like music that makes me question what music is. This is music and amazing music at that. (10/10)


Alvaro Hernandez – “Drowning” is wonderfully mysterious right from the start, then nice and gritty like a proper, neuro jam. The only con is that the song isn’t long enough. (8/10)


Alex Rubenstein – I really do not like anything about this tune; it’s making me want to drown in my own bathtub with nothing but a plugged in toaster oven to comfort me. The choppiness and over abundance of this mid range wobble factor makes me want to forget I ever heard it. (1/10)



Holly Herndon – “Frontier”



Aeron Premo – This sounds like if aliens made Renaissance Faire music. I’m not a fan of renaissance fairs (though I have many friends that are), but I am somewhat intrigued by aliens. The track is enjoyable, but it took too long for the drum kick to come in. I do think the track is expertly produced, though, and I will give a few points for that. It’s just not something I would listen to on the regular. (4/10)


Katie Bowles – This song is cool but not something I’d listen to regularly on my own. However, I can definitely respect the production that went into it.; every tiny aspect of the vocal mixing seems super on-purpose and precise. I’d like to hear this one on a movie soundtrack, maybe during an epic battle/adventure scene. (6/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – I respect the choices producers make, but I would have been long gone on this track if it wasn’t for the review I had to write. I like the track and was impressed with the use of the drums, but I only wished they told me it was coming in some way. Regardless, there’s a very clean production and vocal work. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall on this session – the song has so much work put in and such a powerful strength comes from this once it hits. Well worth the wait. (7/10)


Alvaro Hernandez – An interesting approach to vocal manipulation is heavily prevalent throughout the song, but what ties it all together is the pumping percussion guiding the mass. A fresh cut that should be spreading like a wildfire. (8.5/10)


Alex Rubenstein – Holly Herndon’s approach to electronic music is wholly unique and incredibly refreshing to hear. “Frontier” sounds like if your high school choir group went on a field trip to the club and was chaperoned by an A.I. robot. The beat really knocks and lets the listener know that they are never far away from a good time. (7.5/10)



Cosmin TRG – “Mae Geri”


Aeron Premo – The driving beat is the shining star of this track. It is very reminiscent of Kraftwerk’s Tour De France Soundtracks era. The melody is very befitting for techno, but it’s not very much of a standout for me; it tends to repeat a bit too much, but that’s techno for you. However, this is a decent tune that deserves to be included in lots of DJ sets. (6/10)


Katie Bowles – This sounds like the type of generic dance music I’d hear at a spin class or in the fitting room at Forever 21 – it’s fine and inoffensive to my ears but nothing really stands out about it to me. I just kept waiting for something to happen, and it never did. (2/10)


Justin Barini-Rivers – I am very into the textures, but overall, this track doesn’t do it for me. The drums are dope and I love the idea, but the melodic aspects weren’t that interesting for me. I feel like there is way more movement and modulation in the drum timing. I’m not taking any points off because I realize this isn’t the type of music that’s meant to be heard on a system alone in a room. Overall, the sounds are very clean and the mix is solid. I want to hear this on a proper system. (6.5/10)


Alvaro Hernandez – Cosmin TRG is one of those producers that can achieve having a song sound both light and heavy at the same time. “Mae Geri” has the elements to appeal to the dancers who like a faster step in their groove and to the techno fiends who only need the bass in their ears. (8/10)


Alex Rubenstein – Man, this is excellent. Cosmin TRG serves up some properly hypnotic techno with just enough def touches to keep it consistently interesting throughout its runtime. I love the way the track sounds like it’s moments away from completely folding in on itself yet still remains tough and driving without being punishing. What a great release! (9.2/10)





The Results:

GoldLink – “Zulu Screams” (Feat. Maleek Berry and Bibi Bourelly) – 7.5/10

Jex Opolis – “Desolation” – 7.3/10

Holly Herndon – “Frontier” – 6.6/10

Cosmin TRG – “Mae Geri” – 6.3/10

Levitate – “Drowning” – 5.6/10