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Shenoda: The Space Between Dream and Nightmare

Heading the new wave of British underground EDM is DJ and Producer Shenoda. Since his release of “Shots” EP in 2011, the artist is listed as a major artist on Hypercolour and Fear of Flying. His music has been recognized and remixed by artists such as Konrad Black, Mosca, and Deetron, and is gaining wide recognition throughout Europe. His newest EP, On and On, shifts his usually heavy dub-bass style in a new direction, leading listeners through strange, hazy soundscapes that blur the line between pleasure and confusion.

The opening track, “On and On,” immediately plunges listeners into a hypnotic stupor with its soft, pulsing bass beat and clipped vocal samples. Around a third of the way in, the music establishes a more concrete, danceable groove, while still remaining hazy and unclear in its atmosphere. The track continues in this fashion for quite some time, yet the music never seems to grow tired, as there always seems to be an exit to this dreamy labyrinth just around the corner.

The second track, “The Question,” takes a far more percussive approach than track one. The music is headed by a fierce dance groove comprised of agogo bells, bass drum thuds, and what sounds to be a backfiring refrigerator. Soft vocal moans hover above the music like ghosts, quietly threatening the safety of the listener. On the whole, this track deftly blends the concrete and abstract, the disorienting and the all-too-real, leaving listeners perturbed yet captivated.

The third track, “Catching Clouds,” is my personal favorite. This song is simplistic in its construction: a quiet, repetitive dance beat layered by drone synth floating back and forth between two chords. The track truly shines in the atmospheres constructed around the beat. Listeners hear vocal samples similar to the ones heard in track one, but this time, the voices are out in front, skipping from left to right in the stereo field, meant to confuse and frighten. This song’s energy is static, but the music is so completely immersive I found myself desiring nothing else.

The final track, “Who we are,” is by far the hardest hitting on the album but is patient in its development. For the first thirty seconds, listeners are meant to rely on a spacey vocal sample transposed up an octave to lead them through the song. But the beat eventually does kick in and feels raw and organic due to the use of synth hand percussion. A strange static buzz glues the elements of the music together, while simultaneously creating its own fluid, subliminal energy. The finished product creates a kind of gentle submissiveness in the mind of the listener, a pleasurable laziness allowing the music to flow through the ears and into the body without resistance.

On the whole, On and On is a surprisingly satisfying piece of work due to the static nature of the music. The music is truly impressive in its ability to create extremely immersive atmospheres using only a few instrumental elements. The end result is something tactfully ambiguous, something both sexy and elusive, and leaves listeners unsure whether they should go on listening, or if they even have a choice. After listening, I myself felt vaguely confused, as if waking up from a fever dream, but what I did know is that I wanted to listen again, again and again, so as to be lost in the dream world Shenoda so carefully creates.

[rating:4]
By | 2016-12-02T15:08:15+00:00 July 12, 2012|Album Reviews|0 Comments