Who is Gemini? The 22-year-old producer and songwriter born Thomas Slinger attempts to define himself on this short, five-track EP that includes two of his larger singles, “3D Romeo” and “Freedom.” The Mercury EP, out on November 19, assembles a collection of vignettes, each exploring a different and divergent facet of electronic music.
The modern electronic producer puts on two faces: one, the efficient DJ that rouses the crowd with a well-produced remix, effectively-plotted bass drops, and original tracks so well-known they’re anthems by the time he’s on stage; the other, a producer balancing innovation with trends. Mercury, even with its brevity, straddles both. The brief glimpses of skill, and potential greatness, gleamed from the EP position Gemini as a future production powerhouse, a DJ that drops the heavy beats, writes a catchy synth line, and shows intimacy and reflection at just the right moments.
Even if listeners don’t entirely know who Gemini is, Mercury introduces him as a producer cognizant of mainstream electronic conventions (that essential bass drop, for instance) but not confined by the restrictions of ticket sales, at least just yet. Syncopated rhythms, laid over a steady 4/4 dance beat, flow through each track on Mercury, and intervals and chromatic pitches both propel and enhance the character of each track. Uplifting sequences and synth lines of octaves and fifths give way to the ominous, uncertain quality of a minor second.
“Robots” opens the EP, starting on a familiar note. Out of all five tracks, “Robots” is a quintessential dance floor effort, initiating with a bass drop and warm, supporting vocals. Gemini unleashes the syncopation early, with an off-the-beat melody intertwining around the strict beat.
While his peers tend to put the vocals at the forefront of a house track, Gemini, thankfully, didn’t get the memo. High-in-the-mix synths and rhythm juxtaposed with vocals may seem so 2007, but rather than the unequal effort of many modern-day collaborations, Gemini appears to realize that vocals enhance a track – not shroud its weaknesses with a saccharinely pleasant melody.
The progressive house vibe spills over into “3D Romeo.” An oscillating ostinato segues into a darker yet shimmering and psychedelic patina of sounds. Relationships between intervals define “3D Romeo”’s character, from the opening larger sequences to the chromatic choices Gemini makes for the synths.
If the lower beat hints at trance in “3D Romeo,” it’s full-on subverted in “Freedom,” a shape-shifter of a track that veers between uplifting synth chords and darker moments. Not a vocally-driven effort, “Freedom” echoes elements of two preceding but, at less than five minutes, ends too soon. A more dance floor friendly, 12-inch mix could flesh out “Freedom” to its full potential.
Following “Freedom” are two newer productions, “Losing My Mind” and “Second Law.” While the latter aligns with the rest of the EP’s character, the former serves as a brief two-minute transition of circular piano chords peppered by vocals. Essentially, “Losing My Mind” feels like an afterthought to the dance floor tracks but, much like “Freedom,” has potential to be something greater – in this case, a modern vision of classic synthpop – if expanded and filled out.
In a sense, Mercury lives up to its name. Capricious and enigmatic at points, the EP offers a thorough glimpse into an electronic producer that easily transitions from progressive house to darker trance and understands the elements that appeal to both EDM purists and the fleeting club crowd.
In support of Mercury, Gemini is touring the U.S. and Canada until December 1.