Dustin Steen: “Mixed Genres” has a strong spiritual element

With an onslaught of pressure from modern record labels to produce high-selling records frequently and consistently, and the need to secure a loyal consumer base, an artist’s ability to experiment and evolve with his or her sound seems somewhat futile in the modern era. It seems that musicians throughout every genre are bound by the limitations of what sound will sell, often creating a disassociation between artistic freedom and production demands. With such high stakes, it takes immense talent and perhaps sheer disregard for self-preservation for an artist to experiment successfully with the many facets of the musical lexicon. Perhaps

Dakú Lights: “Illuminate” – a consistent palette of genre-melding pop offerings

London based alternative pop band, Dakú Lights, was formed in April 2016 by the three band members who are represented by their own distinct color to match their personality, with Bhavini being red, Haiiiro as pink-orange and Panda as purple. They have a unique blend of music which incorporates Pop, Kpop, EDM and Urban influences. Currently pursuing a record deal, the band is focused on producing high quality music and building their stage presence for international audiences. Dakú Lights recently released their 5-track EP, entitled “Illuminate”. The title takes a cue from the band’s name, as Dakú means ‘dark’ in

Henry Metal: “So It Hath Begun” will grab you by the balls with a cruel squirrel grip

Henry Metal might have a fine veil of satire embracing the project, but he makes just about the best tribute to the excess of the 80’s and 90’s hard rock and metal genres ever. He has just released his 9 track album, entitled “So It Hath Begun” which contains great songs, which are very easy to bang your head and sing along with. The tracks all have a grooving and slamming feel, plus cool shredding and solos. In fact Henry Metal sounds no different to any of those legendary rock and metal bands from the golden era. You either get

Aeronaut: “Skara” – excellent progressive buildups and rhythmic backflips

Aeronaut can be described as Progressive Rock, Post-Rock, Indie, or simply Alternative Rock, but that doesn’t really matter. All I know is that this project delivers very interesting, fresh, and well-rounded music. Aeronaut has a huge dynamic range, from extremely fast and heavy with smooth, powerful vocals to very relaxing and atmospheric. The music is very melodic, clear and well-produced, the song “Skara” flows and changes to new and exciting ideas. The guitars are very lush and full sounding, during both heavier and mellow parts, while the bass and drums thump and bang in all the right places. Aeronaut is

Eric Hausmann: “Soaked” manages to tap into a very specific emotional core

Eric Hausmann is a multi-instrumentalist and film composer. He has produced music for a number of Malaysian films, in addition to scoring for a variety of New York film productions. He performs live as a guitarist with Portland’s Tres Gone, and Malaysia’s Space Gambus Experiment. He is formerly a member of The Gone Orchestra and Brainwarmer. Hausmann recently released “Soaked” a seven track recording which is described as “A cross-section of Asian dub-fused rock n’ roll with deep India influences.” But it’s probably more than that, as I’m hearing post-rock, world fusion, and ambient rock influences injected into these tracks. Eric

MOOD: “The Wave” is in the right lane!

Hip-hop has changed – there’s no debating that – but change isn’t always indicative of something bad. That being said, it’s refreshing to hear more rapping, with the exception of one or two bridges, versus the continual rap/sing mix that’s permeated mainstream as of late. You’re allowed to appreciate more than one way of creating music and while a lot of rappers have the notion that they should be singing as well, there’s a place for it all, especially if you don’t have a decent singing voice. You obviously can’t disregard one lane of Hip-hop while claiming to be a

EsZ: “If You Didn’t Get This Message, Call Me” – an audacious creative effort

On his new album, “If You Didn’t Get This Message, Call Me”, EsZ aka Erron’s Attic comes out swinging from the first song, a great balance between classic Hip Hop and modern. As usual EsZ gets well thought out ideas through his songs in innovative ways; you definitely get the feeling he has the lyrical substance he wants to express. Although we’re in a dismal era of Rap currently, this could be one of those instant underground classics. EsZ catalog is filled with parables, fables, morals and lamentations, forms of storytelling that compress people and experiences into neat, digestible lessons.

Luna 13 – the solid foundation for gut-ripping synths

The award winning Los Angeles band Luna 13 is forging a new genre of music they call Black Metal/Bass Music. Their brutal yet groove based electro-metal incorporates elements of electronica, death metal, and industrial rock – all done with electronics, which means no string instruments. Music maker Dr. Luna, creates a metal sound with synthesizers and by wrapping heavy distortion around sub-bass. Luna 13 who has been performing live for a few years now, opening for death metal/industrial and electronica projects alike, came into its own when Lilith Bathory joined in 2015. Since, Lilith, the band’s front woman, has been booking modeling jobs

Dezzyano: “Hello World: The Renaissance” – a cohesive feel and tone throughout the album

Now I’ll be honest, before this album was released, I didn’t know much about Dezzyano, the rapper raised 5 mins from Atlanta on Six Flags Dr. I decided to give it a go. And I became a very unlikely Dezzyano fan. The 16 track album, “Hello World: The Renaissance” starts off strong with ‘Anita Baker’. It has an extremely catchy refrain built on a bass and horn driven soul soundscape. This sets the tone for the album, which sees Dezzyano finding different ways of telling his story with catchy hooks and intense verses. From a critical standpoint, this album has

Sick.Life: “Dreamers” – showcasing the diversity and talent of the roster

Sick.Life a collective of artists and an independent music label based in El Paso, Texas. A couple of months back they released their critically acclaimed album, entitled “Contagion”. Now off that album comes the single “Dreamers” produced by NZO, and featuring Josh Brown on the chorus and bridge, while the verses are handled in order of appearance, by Sonny Weston, Lavoe, C.Notes and E$ BFNE. For hip-hop fans growing up in the 21st century, the Sick.Life collective is simply a perfect match between raw lyrical muscle and dynamic production. I listened to the track last night with the intention of

Jiven – a deep headphone experience

Jivendro Adriaans, who was born in Suriname, moved to the Netherlands with his loving parents. He started playing keyboards at the age six when the instrument was given to him as a gift by a father of a friend. Four years later he started making beats and now loves working with FL Studio which was a gift from his mother. Jivendro, who works as a graphic designer also produces music for both rappers and singers, as well as doing remixes of songs by Zendaya and Beyonce. The Netherlands-based, graphics artist and producer, who records as Jiven, expands into a far-reaching space on his recordings. He’s made gorgeously constructed electro under this name, ultimately gaining traction with tracks such as “Go Chillout”, “Good Weekend” and “My Super Chill”.

Jiven’s MTV Profile

Some of his previous songs now sound like mere dreams of the luminous world he was trying so hard to connect to. On these new tracks Jiven gains a skip in his step and strides right into that place, largely due to a shedding of the muddied beats and wistful synth tones that may have positioned him a little too close to retro-futuristic notions.

There’s more air here, lending a greater expanse of room to move around in than before, like travelling from a rundown seaside resort to vast scoops of desert plane. There is a familiar sense of melancholy and the embers of sundown burning through it, but with the ambition clearly heightened right from the first few notes.

The sense of build Jiven possesses—knowing when to add and subtract, when to fade and zoom right back into focus—is a central tenet of the his sound, and it’s a sensibility he retains through all of his tracks. Like a particularly crisp logo or font, his songs have a good sense of scale and proportion, and it’s clear that a lot of work goes into them.

Nostalgic-inspired imagery, a heavy sense of tranquility and faraway longing, all tied together with a pretty sleek modernity. Several of these elements have been sort of beaten into the ground in indie music over the past few years, but with songs like “Qb1” and “Qb2”, Jiven manages to pull them together in a way that feels compelling.

Jiven’s tracks are built primarily with synths and sampled instruments, but what separates him, at least from a lot of the bedroom-oriented artists currently exploring similar sounds, is simple craft. These tracks are OCD-level meticulous.

Hear it in the percussion: In place of the tinny, synthetic beats favored by lots of indie-ambient startups, Jiven takes extra care to capture sounds with a crack and thump that makes you feel like you’re in the room with them. His attention to detail goes beyond highlighting individual instruments. It’s there in the way Jiven simply builds a song, merging all the keyboard wooshes and percussive ripples to find a natural arc.

“Relax”, for example, starts out fairly simple with twinkly keys and a sturdy, knocking beat, but the song’s pulse quickens as it progresses, and by the end you’ve got something heady enough to live up to its title.

Because Jiven clearly wants his music to be a deep headphone experience, those subtle shifts go a long way in holding your interest. And in terms of the imagery he builds – it’s all there, and it’s pretty easy to set your brain on “relax” and conjure up those natural landscapes.

An out-of-nowhere tonal change or an occasional tinge of darkness or light gives these recordings plenty of balance. Ultimately Jiven who has his profile up on the MTV website, succeeds at what he sets out to do. His lush, layered soundscapes will bring the indulgent bliss of a restful bask on the sun-drenched beaches of the world.

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