Title: Caravan of Lightbulbs
Release Date: 2014 Apr 14
Genre: Downtempo Tip-Hop
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Dusted Wax Kingdom
Sometimes I question what is supposed to be special about a release? Or, at least, what sets a release it apart from other releases in the same genre. Well, the caravan of lightbulbs in Sp.Ace isn’t too mysterious in having a unique quality.
Caravan of Lightbulbs in Sp.Ace
Downtempo and Trip-Hop is seemingly fairly easy to describe these days. Take a set of loops of hook parts from some songs, blend them into a nice background and layer a set of beats over the top of it. While it’s easy to describe this style, it’s more difficult to produce, and the better the production the more creativity and skill that is involved.
And yet, it seems that we are flooded with this style of music these days. Just take a walk through Dusted Wax Kingdom, Jamendo, BandCamp and numerous other sites and you will find a plethora of Downtempo releases of varying quality. I know this is a question I’ve approached this question from a couple of different angles before: what really is transformation, and what makes a good Downtempo release?
Well, I would argue that there are a lot of good Downtempo and/or trip-hop releases today. Now we really need to focus on what it takes to go from being good to being something better, something different. In other words, what does it take to make a release into something that is note worthy?
Sp.Ace Finds A Couple of Answers
The first thing that Sp.Ace did to differentiate their music was to find collaborators that have demonstrated that they can make excellent music on their own, and would compliment the pieces on this release. So, in this case, three of the tracks feature female vocalists.
‘Break Free’ features the vocals of Sofia Deville, who proves to have a strong style of doing multi-part harmony vocals. The vocals are extremely well done, although I personally don’t like the style. However, Lisa West (aka Faerytale) is a vocalist I could listen to for days on end, and her contribution on ‘Caravan’ is simply gorgeous. And, last (but not least) Klangschwester’s contribution on ‘More’ rounds out this release with an ethereal ambiance that puts many chill-out recordings to shame.
But there is still another thing that Sp.Ace does in this release. Beyond the chilled beats, and grooving soundscapes there are specific sounds which are the focal point of the song. For example, on ‘Caravan’ the sounds are that of a lightbulb “popping” and being screwed in. On ‘Loved Once’ the sounds are that of a small electric motor.
The overall effect is to take the standard downtempo style music and mix in a little experimental element. I think of it as music concrete meets downtempo. The idea works well, it adds another dimension to the pieces, and definitely makes them different from other releases in this genre.
I have to admit, the first play of this release didn’t reveal to me that there was anything unique or interesting going on. It was only on the second and third listening that I realized how special the vocalists and found-sound elements were on this release.
I’m glad that I did give it a closer listen. I had thought at first that I was going to write a rather lukewarm review of it, and just single out a couple of the vocalists. However, now I recommend listening to this release from start to finish. Breath in the unique elements, and just let the vocals wash over you. I’m pretty certain you will be happy that you did.