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: Patrick Blinkhorn, Alex Rubenstein, Yvette Bailhache, Max Rewak, and our next guest contributor, Rachel Wong aka Eau Claire. This week’s music includes tracks by Gila, Maddjazz, Outputmessage, Out 2, and Nigredo. Check it out below and send us your suggestions for future Feedback Fridays on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
Gila – “106 Slipper”
Patrick Blinkhorn – Oh shit, you hear that bass at 0:18?? We’ve got ourselves a winner! Love the infection in the bass at 0:27 too. Ooooh, and that oldschool synth sound at 0:54? Oh yea, “106 Slipper” is our winner this week for sure, no questions asked, game over. Oh man, that little drum groove at 1:48 — yea, this track doesn’t quit! Another thing I really enjoy about this track is how GILA uses empty space and an open mix to their advantage. Well done, GILA — you knocked this one out of the park! (10/10)
Max Rewak – This shit is cool, very experimental. It kind of reminds me of kid antoine which is high praise because i think kid antoine is good. If I had to nitpick this I would say that some of the sound design is a little basic. I really like the cover art a lot. (6/10)
Rachel Wong – A very bold track from GILA. Production wise this is good work, will definitely go off in the club. Neat to hear him bring together hip hop and techno elements. The giant reverb on the top percussive elements open up the track and and paired with the heavy sub bass I could see this track getting a lot of support. There are a lot of technical elements that are intricately placed, and GILA does a good job giving them power without becoming muddy or overwhelming. (6.5/10)
Yvette Bailhache – There wasn’t much for me to feel on this song either. It’s just hard for my ears to grasp songs like this. However, there was a bit of a bass line that dropped going into the 3 minute mark that got my head nodding for a quick second and the song was slightly more enjoyable after the 4 minute mark when I could hear some 80’s hip hop samples thrown in there, so that was cool. But meh, overall I’m good. (2/10)
Alex Rubenstein – This shit right here, man! This shit right here! This track keeps it rolling thick and heavy with just the right amount of haze throughout. Elements fade in and out from being murky as hell to crystal clear to great effect. We’ve got booming sub-bass, percussion that sounds like it could cut you, mysterious alien-like sound effects all over top an engaging moomba-esque rhythm. I was sort of familiar with Gila prior to this release, but I am now much more interested homie’s output. “106 Slipper” is one-half of a two-track release, Shedskin Pt.33, to kick off Gila’s new label, Hunnaban Inc. Don’t sleep on this one, folks. (8.8/10)
Maddjazz – “Ghetto303”
Patrick Blinkhorn – Love that acid bass — wish Maddjazz started automating it more before the ~0:40 mark though. Nice minimal percussion in here too. The “Acid” vocal sample seems a bit cliché to me — I marked down the score a point for that. For that matter, a lot of this track seems cliché to me, but I kind of like it on the whole — strange how that works out, huh? Solid work here. (7.5/10)
Max Rewak – Damn i like madjazz’s music. Its playful and it still bangs. Those claps are so raw. I bought this on BandCamp two days ago and I listened again a few times since then, but when I sat down to write about it I was expecting not to like it as much. Wrong this shit slaps for real. If you don’t like this shit we have very different taste in music (30/3)
Rachel Wong – This feedback series is really giving me an opportunity to put my mind to work. Acid house is again not a genre I’m really familiar with but my initial thoughts when listening to this track is that I could definitely see this move in the club late at night. I like that he added some variation to the arpeggiated synth by adjusting the cut off and filtering in addition to the percussive elements and sampled vocals that give this track its own distinct character. After a few listens this track grew on me, it’s also well mixed. (6/10)
Yvette Bailhache – I pressed play on day when my energy level was low, yet the pulse of this song still couldn’t pick me up. For most of the listen I kind of felt like I was trapped in an 80’s video game, but like not in a fun way. And the whispering man-vocals that randomly come in are kind of creepy and confusing. This just isn’t my taste. (1/10)
Alex Rubenstein – Dope. This is getting me hype, for real. My girlfriend is laughing at me because I’m raving in my chair as I write this. I love the 90’s vibe this has while still sounding fresh. It’s also easily believable that this was made in April of 2018. Definitely a fan of the tight vocal chops over this big squiggly synth. You can absolutely tell that this dude was raised in Chicago. I want to hear this one on the dance floor. (8.3/10)
Outputmessage – “Achilles” Feat. Julius Jetson
Max Rewak – I was about ready to start writing some serious bullshit about how it was funky and minimal but then i heard the trance synths and my rating of this track bumped up about 25 points. I fucking love trance and especially psytrance i fucking love it so much. Those string synth pads things reinvigorated my entire being. (13/5)
Rachel Wong – Always good to hear from fellow DC producers. I’m pretty sure Bernard (Outputmessage) has been producing before I even got into producing myself – and it shows. This collab is with another good friend and producer Julius Jetson shows the talent our city can offer. What’s so impressive to me is that Bernard is also a great singer/songwriter and from my own experience it is a challenge to produce in addition to sing and song write. He did great with his synths, they really add depth to this track. (7/10)
Yvette Bailhache – I’m so glad Outputmessage has returned with new tunes. My first intro to him was “NYR” a track I still love to play 7+ years later. The vocal melodies (and lyrics) on “Achilles” are my favorite thing about this song. They’re feel-good and remind me of lazy afternoon or early evening during the hot summer. The chill house vibes on top of those vocals are pretty so)lid as well. Looking forward to hearing the album in full. (7/10)
Alex Rubenstein – It’s always nice to see D.C. based artists come together to collaborate as is the case here with Bernard Farley aka Outputmessage and Julian Ragland aka Julius Jetson. The production here is really clean, just perhaps too clean for my tastes. I can see this being dropped at U Street Music Hall about 1:30 am to a packed crowd all smiles, closed eyes, and hands raised. This isn’t really my style so for that fact alone I am not rating it very high, but respect nonetheless. (3/10)
Patrick Blinkhorn – Over the past year, Outputmessage and I have become good friends, and I’m actually working with him on music of our own, so reviewing and critiquing his music will be a challenge, but I’ll do my best!
Let me start with what works for me in “Achilles:” I absolutely love Outputmessage’s vocals — Outputmessage is easily my favorite vocalist in DC, so the fact that he nailed the vocals doesn’t surprise me.
Now on to some things I’m not so into: I don’t like the closed hi hat rhythm that starts off the track and returns at 1:04 among other places. I’m not into how the bass fades in at 0:14 — for that matter, I’m not completely sold on the bass line melody either. The bass line rhythm works — it’s nice, bouncy, and danceable — but something about the melody doesn’t work for me. Besides that bass line, smooth sailing until 1:02 — at 1:02, a noise sweep that I’m not entirely into leads to that lush synth lead. The timbre of the lush synth is probably one of my two least favorite parts of the track. The sound color of the lead synth is not something that I find aesthetically pleasing these days. That synth line leads into my second least favorite part of the track at 1:20 — the sub bass. The sub bass echoes the synth lead, which is a perfectly valid technique, but again, not something that resonated with me.
Now back to elements of the track that I enjoyed: though I wasn’t so into the sub bass and the lead synth that played together in the break starting at 1:20, I enjoy that synth that comes in at 1:36, both its melody and sound color. And the echoing, panned element coming in at 2:48 is gorgeous — brilliant work with that. And that effect on the vocal that leads to the vocals coming back at 3:35 is also very well done. My favorite part of the track is the vocal inflection at 3:56 — this moment gives the listener a bit of a spicy, flavorful aftertaste, which I definitely appreciate. I also enjoy how the vocals sort of drift off at the end.
There are some aspects of this track that clicked with me and other parts that did not. Much of this review is a matter of taste, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, I tried to be honest with how the track made me feel. I look forward to hearing more Outputmessage tracks in the future. (6.5/10)
Out 2 – “Some Air’s Red Out There”
Patrick Blinkhorn – The percussion in this track immediately struck me — good work there. The flute line is solid, but I’m not in love with it. I’m not feeling the vocal sample that comes in at 0:39 — I imagine this could work if one were under the influence of some exotic substance. But listening to this sober on a Thursday afternoon is not doing it for me. I’d also change the bass line up more if the track were mine. It seems that this track is taking a psychedelic, almost avant-garde angle, which I respect, but I’m not in the mood for this right now. (3.5/10)
Max Rewak – I don’t understand the context of this at all I found myself think why would someone make this which is what i thought at one point about pretty much every single one of my favorite artists. I need to listen more of this to understand what it even is let alone evaluate it. Alright I liked this shit a lot by the end of it but I don’t know why. (7/0)
Rachel Wong – Interesting track with an eclectic combination of sounds and percussive elements used to tell the story. The vocals sound improvised which is kind of cool to hear since most of what I listen to these days is structured to a T. I’m digging the instrumental after 4:00 with the effects placed on the various percussive elements like cowbells, claps. and background synths. (5/10)
Yvette Bailhache – Prior to this track I was not familiar with either the label Emotional Rescue or the NYC duo Out 2, but they’ve all got my attention now thanks to this song. There’s a late-night tropicalesque/Talking Heads thing going on here that I’m feeling. The 80’s synthesizer loop (that I’ll never tire of) is also a plus for me and the sound of the soft flute riding the wave of the track got me to relax during a week that has been pretty hectic. Nice needed vibes here. (7.5/10)
Alex Rubenstein – This sounds like if a subpar LCD Soundsystem cover band somehow released a single on Ninja Tune. 7 minutes is far too long for a song that got old to me before the first minute was over. The cover art is far better than it deserves to be for this song. I can’t listen to any more of this. (1/10)
Nigredo – “The Clock Says It’s Time For You To Fuck Off
Patrick Blinkhorn – Wow, what a track title from Berlin-based artist Nigredo! After sending a chill down the listener’s spine with an ominous bell sample, Nigredo fades in a relentless kick drums that seemingly punishes the listener for all the wrong they’ve done in their life. The hi hat sounds a bit too loud and sharp at the 2:30 break, but the hammering return of the kick and distorted synths at 2:59 snaps the listener back to the regular programming: a brutal clobbering of the eardrums.
The track starts to go downhill for me around 3:50. There are too many elements in the mix, and though I crave a proper beating from my techno, the end of the track doesn’t have me asking for more. The section from 2:57–3:30 is excellent though, so despite the overwhelming mix later on, this track earns a solid score from that section. (6/10)
Max Rewak – I know I’m getting old because when i saw the title i wasn’t like “fuck yeah fuck you everyone!!!” i was all “is that language really necessary” man listening to this made me tense and very upset. Eventually i kind of got into it but god damn this dude is really angry hes got to be incredibly pissed off about something. This sounded like hitting sheet metal with a hammer but honestly hitting sheet metal with a hammer sounds like a decent way to earn a living. (-0.0001 dbFS RMS)
Rachel Wong – I’m not quite sure what to make of this, very experimental with a lot of elements going on at the same time that is a bit overwhelming to me. The track however is very fitting to the title and if anything Nigredo is able to provide emotion and energy in the sound he has created here. (2/10)
Yvette Bailhache – Awesome song title. Admittedly, I am not heavy into techno although there have been a few techno songs that I’ve been able to (somewhat) get into. But not this one. Maybe it’s my lack of patience this week, but as the song progressed without some sort of rhythm I could to flow to I found myself getting annoyed and wanting to break shit, so I had to turn the volume down and ride it out on low until the end. (1/10)
Alex Rubenstein – I gotta disagree with Max, this is a great fucking title. What we have here is a ticking time bomb of a track just waiting to go off at any moment. I do love hard hitting techno, but don’t tend to listen to the really industrial or EBM-indebted strains like we have here. The way this song ends abruptly is a nice touch as well since it leaves the listener sweaty and out breath wondering “what the fuck just happened?” (5/10)
The Winners and Losers:
Gila – “106 Slipper” – 6.6/10
Outputmessage – “Achilles” Feat. Julius Jetson – 5.8/10
Maddjazz – “Ghetto303” – 5.7/10
Out 2 – “Some Air’s Better Out There” – 4.25/10
Nigredo – “The Clock Says It’s Time For You To Fuck Off” – 3.5/10