Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Mocean Worker: Something to please everyone

October 6, 2015

Mocean Worker

Gramatik has always been my quintessential god of grooviness, but Mocean Worker may be overtaking that throne after his newly-released self-titled album. With a tasteful blend of electronic, funk and jazz elements–a little house here, a sprinkle of synth there, handfuls of hunky horn over yonder–Mocean Worker stirs a pot of sizzling, spicy Electro Swing (yes, it is a thing).

Hearing “Soul Swing” was like hearing Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” for the first time–it’s fiercely upbeat, techno-textured and vibrantly optimistic, but yet there’s a goofiness riding the track the whole time; It never takes itself too seriously. Jam-packed with piano and an old timey-feel, the vibe this first track sets for the party record shows depth and off-the-charts mixing.

“I Told You Twice The First Time” has carnival-like mockery to it. Colorful electronic incorporations, repeated female vocals, Richter-scale rhythm, rollercoaster synth and subtly dense bass build a groove that wraps itself in circles.

Tracks such as “The Actual Funk (Featuring Sweetpea Atkinson),” “Savoy Strut,” and “Clap Yo Hands (Mtune)” are techno-charged and sleek. “Clap Yo Hands (Mtune)” has an especially duskier vibe to it compared to others on the album: it begins slow-paced, ping-ping-pinging until an upbeat funk unleashes and fat bass guitar strums along, ultimately creating a warehouse party feel. Dubstep elements gently tug the rope that the opposing happy-groove buzz has a firm grip on for the majority of the album.

There is a good amount of abstraction that Mocean Worker slips in casually. “Julius,Irving,Berlin” gives Mocean Worker a distorted edge, playing up distant-sounding, quick bits of piano, warped tads of techno, and female vocals that sound like chopped television recordings. The opening on “Rubberband” harps and pulses like it’s beating from below water, an undersea horn-heavy dance party for the first few seconds. The beginning of “Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ Bout” also stole my heart with its slow-to-build swing dance, finger-snapping, bass-heavy groove.

While “Ralph and Marcus” is meant for a private striptese–with all of its confident sultriness, clinking percussion and teasing instrumentals–it’s “PunkDisco (Jaco)” that got my hips swaying with wooden percussion and Latin elements. And the title of True Romantic track goes to closer “Collete Ma Belle Femme.” Serene piano adds newfound lightness to the record, making it a sleepy, beautiful surprise. This one plays like a romantic serenade or a lullaby, and I could almost picture the misty mountain ranges as the album comes to a close.

Mocean Worker is for all of those hard-to-pleasers out there; it’s got enough tasteful fun to put a smile on the faces and sway in the hips of even the most snobby listeners. Because, simply put, Mocean Worker is a natural at creating ambiance. He has done for our ears what Feng Shui has done for rich people’s living rooms–harmonized us with our souls. But instead of through our surrounding environments, he has done so via a groovy, funk-inspired, kaleidoscope lens. —Rachel Haney

Singles: Smooth, Galactic Groove

August 31, 2015

August Singles: Smooth, Galactic Groove

  1. Hardships” – Nadia Nair. Uproariously captivating in a way I haven’t heard since M.I.A., Nadia Nair’s sound balances exoticness and inclusivity, achieving dynamite individualism that anyone can appreciate.
  2. Lil Yamaha” – Sun Cut Flat. Sun Cut Flat combines gentle, Gramatik-like groove with a delicate pop sound. As the final steaming days of August roll in, promise me you’ll sit down with this track while the summer sun dips and the cool drinks start a-flowin’.
  3. The Shields” – Velour Modular. The ‘bass music,’ ‘sex,’ ‘neotriphop,’ and ‘Abstract’ hashtags adorning this track’s Soundcloud page sum it up entirely.
  4. Can’t Have” – Steven A. Clark. You know when you hear a song, and you think, “Yup. This is going to blow up. Everywhere.”? “Can’t Have” is that song. I’m counting down the days until Clark’s upcoming album, The Lonely Roller, is released on September 18th. (18 days from now.)
  5. wlkng” – arpl and do zee. If you like your instrumental hiphop buttery smooth and with heavy cream, get a taste of this rich lo-fi served up by two crazy-talented members of Fixed Fidelity.
  6. Petals” – BIKES and do zee. Another collaboration from Fixed Fidelity, because apparently I can’t get enough of them, “Petals” combines gnarly guitar lines, day-time lo-fi, and wholesome instrumentals for an electronic walk-in-the-park kind of track.
  7. Dance to the Beat” – Dr!ve. Brought to you by Discobox Records, this has flared jeans, electronic synthesizers, and funky soul written (in glitter pen) all over it. Check out the remixes by Shake Machine and Rotciv as well.
  8. Meteor” – The Winter Sounds. If I could copy and paste these insanely brilliant lyrics, I would. Instead, close those eyes, plug in those headphones, and absorb this galaxies-colliding, synth-sprinkled Big Bang.
  9. Boys Life” – Small Black. How does one make something so disco-dancey, sublime, laidback, and catchy all at once?
  10. Gutter” – baeb rxxth. With the opening lines, “Cage match, I’m a tiger cub/and you’re a bloody piece of steak,” it’s hard not to recognize the unprocessed trap-pop sound that is the big, bad, bold baeb rxxth.
  11. Miss. Mirage” – NoMBe. Haunting lyrics like, “Counting wolves and old sheep/Watch them sharpen those teeth/Crude from the walls of no sleep,” contrast with a smooth groove, smoother vocals, and utopian-esque album art that all left me feeling bewitched, a bit spooked, and completely hooked.
  12. Tantalized” – Fever High. Holy Happiness. “Tantalized” reminds me of those dandelion choker necklaces I used to wear in ‘98, and all the sassy lip-syncing that late ‘80s/early ‘90s chicks mastered long before learning to play the recorder. I have the feeling Fever High were totally those girls.
  13. Control” – Kisses. I’d like to write a bunch of “Oww! Woo! Szzz!” onomatopoeias that were my reaction when hitting play on this sizzling, sleek track. “Control” combines funk, synth, exotic percussion, and dance-inducing rhythm that remains controlled throughout.
  14. Pirates” – Heptagon Heaven. Heptagon Heaven–The corsairs of new-world synth, galactic drops, and astrological album art. Enough said, peace out. —Rachel Haney

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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