Title: The Royal Treatment
Release Date: April 2014
Genre: Downtempo / Hip-Hop
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Getting the royal treatment of VYVCH in my ears seems to be continuing a trend that I’ve been on lately: listening to Russian electronic music. Only there’s one surprise here: this release isn’t from a Russian netlabel. It’s from blocSonic here in America. So, how does this release stack up against some of the other Russian releases I’ve listened to? Well, read on.
The Royal Treatment of VYVCH
I have to admit, the opening track of The Royal Treatment didn’t quite match my expectations given the title ‘Bubblelicious’. I would have thought this would have been an up-tempo, light and bouncy tune. But it isn’t: it’s a down-tempo tune, with slow-moving bass drum / hand-clap rhythm, and sustained guitar lines with deep echo / reverb. Not what I thought of as bubbly at all, and not a sound of bubbling water anywhere to be heard.
If anything, I think this title should have been flipped. The third track is ‘Stoner Party’ and has a much more bouncy synthesizer line that sounds a lot more bubbly to me. And, the first track with its slow rhythm and drawn out guitar lines sounds more like a ‘Stoner Party’ to me.
But, what makes this release a little different and more interesting that some of the recent releases I’ve listened to is the idea of fusing shoe-gaze guitar lines with down-tempo jazz samples for a bit of a twist on a style that’s becoming too common these days.
A good example of this fusion is found on the track ‘She’s Not Home’ which starts with a twangy, deep reverb guitar before heading off into electronic land. The track also features the same vocal sample as used on ‘Bubblelicious’ only on this track the tempo is faster, and the sample is manipulated to fit the track. It’s almost as if these two tracks are complimentary to each other: They share a similarity of sound texture, but are contrasted by difference in tempo: one slow, while the other is medium tempo. (Although the vocal sample takes on the quality of being a recurring motif as it is used on many more tracks: ‘Frozen Bong’, ‘Smoking On The Shore’, ‘Barely Baked’, and ‘Stonerville’ .)
And that’s what seems to be the point of this release. Using a dark pallet of textures, VYVCH moves between deliberately down-tempo pieces, and up-tempo. He moves from twangy guitar sounds, to completely synthesizer driven pieces (like on ‘Stoner Party’). Yet no matter how he has chosen to arrange or instrument any given piece it is fitting within this style.
VYVCH seems to be on a path to re-invent down-tempo music. He’s blending elements of several different styles of music within the framework that we’ve come to call down-tempo’ music. This may not be a revolutionary concept, but it is an evolutionary step: a way to move the music in a new direction, without losing the identifiable parts.
The only thing that I can actually criticize about this release is the electronic drum and bass sounds. I thought many electronic artists had moved towards acoustic sounds in this area to make the music sound more authentic and add an earthy quality to it. But, that is just a stylistic choice.