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Nega Blast X: “She’s a Devil with an Angel’s Face” – an era of pastels, neon and shoulder pads

Nega Blast X is a trance techno industrial music project formed in 2010 by music producer Dominic R. Daniels. He is many things, but he is no copycat. Daniels is still a skilled arranger of synthesized sounds who usually dabbles in trance, techno and industrial soundscapes. But pop culture’s obsession with the 1980s seemed to have reached something of a fever pitch in 2017. A lot of the proof is in the various TV series’ which have been paying faithful, loving tribute to the era of pastels, neon and shoulder pads. It’s only natural for this revival to warrant its own soundtrack. You can go crate-digging for all the best classic LPs of the time, but it’s just as appropriate to check out contemporary artists who are faithfully recreating the era.

Nega Blast X‘s love for the genre and period is relatively irony-free. It’s not a coy, satirical wink at a bygone era; his commitment to the aural aesthetic shows a genuine appreciation for a much-maligned genre. No doubt this attitude will establish him as a ‘80s revivalist of the highest order.

The EP “She’s a Devil with an Angel’s Face”, is a separate electronic, hip hop and pop music project from Nega Blast X, featuring original music in collaboration with Serbian music producer Duumix. It also showcases the vocal talents of Sam Clem and Bellz. Influences are Shannon, Biggie Smalls, Michael Jackson, Ice Cube, Grandmaster Flash and MC Hammer. The EP will be released via iTunes during February of 2018. Shuffling through the tracks, it quickly becomes evident that for someone who is essentially reinventing the classic synthesizer genre via classic 80’s motifs, Nega Blast X shows a refreshing restlessness.

Nega Blast X and Duumix inject plenty of hooks and sonic layers on “She’s a Devil with an Angel’s Face”, that will remind you of your favorite artists and songs of the eighties, but it never seems overstuffed. If anything, he probably holds back more than he should. But it’s all handled with an appropriately deft touch.

Daniels knows that there is an enthusiastic audience for Reagan-era synths, but it works best in moderation. The sounds of Shannon, Biggie Smalls, Michael Jackson, Ice Cube, Grandmaster Flash and MC Hammer are each linked to a certain song in the set here. I won’t tell which they are, as that will spoil half the fun of listening to this EP, but you’ll easily guess the tunes as Nega Blast X and crew nail each performance with authentic flair.

These songs may be purely synth generated, but “She’s a Devil with an Angel’s Face” is an honest, oddly humanistic release from an artist with a glorious keyboard arsenal who knows how to use it.  Happily stuck in the 80s, Daniels revels in its grooving glory, often producing funky basslines, synth leads and thick virtual strings or pad sections and other sounds invented during the last forty years.

The set is absolutely loaded with rolling grooves in pretty much every tune. And while there is thematic continuity across the set, with layers and layers of synths doing just about all the work, each of these songs have their own distinct personalities.

Sam Clem’s resonating voice perfectly mimics our eighties heroes, whether his rapping on “Soldier Vigilante”, “Sizzle Just Sizzle” and “Hush Hush Not Speak The Truth To Speak”, or whether his singing out funky anthems like “Ashes To Ashes” and “She’s A Devil With An Angel’s Face”. Bellz belts out “Get The Groove On” with the same soulful grace.

On this EP the Burbank music arranger and author, Dominic R Daniels, has demonstrated growth that only a musician with at least a decade of experience can accomplish. He has proven on all of his other album releases that he’s capable at pulling together the most far-ranging otherworldly rhythms and sounds possible.

Here he confirms, together with Serbian producer Duumix, that he can do exactly the opposite. It didn’t take long for the entire Ep to feel like a comfortable old shoe, something you could wear all the time. In the retro electronica realm, you could do much worse than pick up a copy of “She’s a Devil with an Angel’s Face” – a near-instant-classic release!

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