Out of the 210 articles that have been posted on this site in the last 3 weeks, there have only been 3 or 4 artists who have really stood out to me and the team here at String Buzz. After listening to this EP, that tally goes up to 5. I’m still in absolute awe after listening to this EP, shock even. It’s genuinely difficult to write the right words to explain to you why this EP is so brilliant, it’s a real struggle. Not since I heard Plini’s first EP, have I ever been so excited about an act in prog. As you may or may not know (dependant on whether you’re a follower on the site), prog is by far my favourite genre, it’s the most interesting, it’s the most variant and it’s often the most expressive. Being a young ambient producer myself, I take a lot from prog and regurgitate it onto my own records. If more artists did, the music quality would rise significantly. Example? Dan James Griffin. This guy is what, 19, and he is producing some of the most exciting prog tunes I’ve heard all decade. Up to this point, I’d say CHON, Plini, Animals as Leaders and Nordic Giants are the front-runners for modern prog, after listening to this EP, I can see this guy joining them. He’s so different and exciting, his sound defies expectations consistently. Anyways let’s cut the waffle and dive into this review.
Production wise the whole EP is solid for an independent act. There are some aspects that are great but some need improvement (bare in mind how much it costs to make an EP as an independent act before you judge). The piano has this crisp, hard tone to it which cuts through the mix well actually becoming the prominent instrument in some parts. The guitar can get a little too low weighted and unnatural at times, but for the most part the tone stays strong and mixes with the instrumentation well. The synths are the real vocal point for me; there are some gorgeous pads being used here. Those same pads create this beautiful, dreamy texture that carries each song nicely. The drums are a little thin and are lacking a real deep kick sound; sometimes they can get swamped by the instrumentation making only the cymbals listenable. However, this is an independent EP and when you put all these aspects together, the track listing sounds incredibly professional. If I had only just found out about the artist, I’d think he was signed to Sumerian or something.
Musicality wise this song is almost unmatched. I haven’t seen a 9 string player this good since Javier Reyes; un-fudging-believable. Each sequence is technical as heck yet still contains this degree of emotion and wonder; it never once sounds mechanical. There are moments of exploration and wonder, then of darkness and mystery; it emotes so much in it’s short run time. I’m glad he takes the Plini approach rather than the AAL’s approach on this EP because I think it suits his style so much better. So much prog now is over-done sounding completely soulless as a result, this guy breathes personality into his music and I love that. ‘Darnell’ in particular is my favourite track because of all these reasons. It’s brooding and slow at the start, frenetic and wild in the middle, and soft and delicate in end. If I were to show someone exactly what I want to hear in a prog track, it would be this one. The instrumentation is gloriously well written and some sequences are mind boggling complex. The time signatures on this EP are out of this world, this guy has created a whole new meaning to ‘rhythm’. The irregular pulse had me interested in every single bar; just blew me away if I’m honest.
All in all then, an unreal EP. Some tracks in here will definitely be up for grabs in our best song awards this week, no doubt. You HAVE to check this guy out, I cannot recommend him enough. He’s the next biggest thing in prog and deservedly so, get there before the bookies do.
G Rating: 8.5/10 – One of the EP’s of the year.
I Rating: 9.5/10 – With some slightly better mixing, this EP could of easily hit our perfect rating.