MATTHIAS ASIEDU YEBOA
House / electronic duo Gorgon City’s album is aptly named: it hearkens to legend of the siren: beautiful creatures singing beautiful melodies. Not aggressive, but dangerous. That and the artwork sum up this album perfectly.
‘Coming Home’ starts off the overall uplifting vibe of the album with a gorgeous piano line and Maverick Sabre’s highly underrated, lovely, soulful voice atop a four-to-the-floor beat and atmospheric production. Then comes a recurring motif; a drop that is functional, simple and effective, making for a song you can play at a rave, house party or even just on your way to work.
Next comes ‘Ready for Your Love’, and it still sounds as awesome as when it first came out. MNEK’s unaffected, heartfelt vocals continue the uplifting vibe. Gorgon City’s approach to sound here and throughout is a tried-and-tested method; simple beats with lyrics about intimacy, only there’s more substance in their tracks than is to be expected from the standard house music canon of miscellaneous one-hit-wonders. This track is a textbook example; MNEK talking about apprehension and emotional preparation using celestial imagery, all in a single. Who says electronic music has no soul?
The album remains great as it goes on, but a problem does emerge; each song is great to the point of formulaic. Listening to this album in bits is recommended, because it can get a tad tiresome otherwise. Gorgon City’s showing off how well their style fits with different kinds of vocalists, and that’s OK, but it can feel directionless.
It’s when ‘FTPA’ starts that Gorgon City utilizes some adventurousness. R&B fans will love this track: a clipped but fat-sounding tribal beat pervades the song, with Erik Hassle’s uniquely moody vocal style. As for the lyrics, they’re brooding and expressive; ‘Kissing your scars softly, watching you heal slowly, fuck the pain away’ – painful, but beautiful. Halfway through, an organ comes in, switching up the atmosphere. Not much happens besides the switch-up itself, but points for adventure, guys. Having said that, when the previous section comes back, so do some muted but colorful horns. The song ends simply, with the bassline and the horns and Hassle’s adlibs. Fantastic.
‘Real’, featuring Yasmin, is a perfect fusion of house and R&B. It’s still four-to-the-floor but some syncopated, punchy, drum sounds cut through it, and Yasmin’s voice has the most well-rounded and self-assured voice on this album. Not only this, but the song has the simplest, most functional drop on the album. No BS, just the drum sounds, simple synths, some fleeting effects, Yasmin’s voice and bass, with tiny but effective variations later. It’s one of the best tracks on the album in light of electronic music as a genre; familiar enough for house Luddites to enjoy, but pushing it a small step forward. More of this adventurousness would have given this album a higher rating.
As for Katy Menditta’s performance on ‘Imagination’, it just cannot be pinned downed. That’s a good thing: although there’s an R&B ting to her voice, the tradition of her calm, but visceral style is hard to trace. Thrown in some subtle funky guitars later in the song, and this is more of the adventure that improves the album as a whole.
For more stand-out vocals and lyrics, see pretty much any other song on the album – except for the unfortunately one-dimensional and plain ‘Go All Night’, but especially the sonic breath of fresh air ‘6AM’ and the gorgeous ‘Elevating’.
What cannot go unmentioned is ‘Hard on Me’, the most adventurous track on the album: a melancholic, slightly industrial sounding, slightly off-kilter, jazzy atmosphere, and who better to return on vocals on a track like this than Maverick Sabre? There’s a reason they feature Sabre on the closing track as well as the opening, he’s the perfect bookend. As for the track, it recalls dubstep legend Skream: there is a wub-wub-wub, but it’s light, unobtrusive and simple. It sounds like said legend covering trip-hop artist Massive Attack. Again, this kind of adventurous texture might have improved the album.
Gorgon City has made an album of simple pleasures, which is not at all a bad thing: they do it well. It is a shame they stick to a safe sound though, and it can be argued that Gorgon City could extend their crossover appeal if they really tried. Then again, it’s clear that Gorgon City isn't trying to impress anyone.
Overall this is a great album, highly recommended for its simplicity, its focus and overall feel good vibe. Here’s to Gorgon City continuing to do their thing with the sound they’ve established, and to the hope of some forward-thinking electronic music on later releases, because Lord knows if anyone can do it, Gorgon City can.