With the advent of relatively cheap recording equipment, there has been a complete rebirth in how music is being recorded and distributed these days. Granted, this may be old news to some – but the DIY industry has come a long way since Fostex 8 track recorders – leading to a proliferation of loop based recording artists. Anybody can make music – but not everybody can make music well. You can buy a complete archive of drum sounds for ten dollars on a cd, and with the smallest bit of talent can lay down a guitar riff or piano sound over those stock drums, sing a melody, and voila, you have yourself an EP. Unfortunately, the relative ease of doing so has, in some ways, lead to the degradation of music as an art form; because for every Passion Pit, there are 35 other bands/individuals that don’t have the slightest clue about arrangement, holding the listener’s interest, the relationship of tension to release, or the importance of dynamics; and this doesn’t even get into EQ, or compression – or other production techniques that would fly under the newbie’s radar.
Hotel Eden understands the art of creating a song. Formerly of the Lab Rats, a Columbus, Ohio based beat production team, Kelly Warner has provided us with an interesting collection of songs complete with hip hop break beats, plinky piano lines and well thought out melodies. He’s a little bit of a throwback to DJ Shadow’s older days with an MPC, though not as gritty – evident in the head nodding beat which unfurls nicely in the first track, “Tell Me Where You’ve Been”. What makes Warner’s 5 song EP stand out above the rest of the fold is his attention to simplistic detail. Although working with loops, his moving songcraft keeps you interested in a number of ways – be it a slight change in the melody, a kick drum drop out, or a moving acoustic guitar loop. His handle of dynamics and the obvious foundation in hip hop beat production gives the music a foot hold in a number of different worlds without sounding too trite (Matthew Santos?) or too much like a just a background track. He has successfully invoked sentiment and urban credibility in this EP, and I applaud him for it.
“A Way Back Home”, presented by Solar Set Records, is not another electro-pop fake Postal Service album – this is a much more down to earth, urban, and cinematic pop soundscape with an appeal to people of all ages; steeped in the loop based history of music – but as interesting and intrinsic as a full blown band could be.