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Electronic Dance Music has reached a colossal resurgence in the past decade and has managed to infiltrate and seep into every stream of music from the popular mainstream to the downright avant-garde. As such, the enormous task of creating relevant, progressive forms of the genre becomes increasingly difficult for composers and producers. As equipment and collaborators become ever more abundant and accessible, a constant flow of young up and comers are bursting onto the scene with varying levels of success.
Asdasfr Bawd (pronounced as-daz-for bored) has been making waves recently with his blend of post-dub and Chicago footwork with some modern twists. The 19-year-old Melbourne producer has received attention from local heavyweights in music as well as blogs and radio stations overseas. A recent signing on with Solitaire Records, run by Melbourne trio, I’lls, has seen Bawd build some serious hype surrounding his upcoming release, Underpass.
The debut EP from 19 year-old producer Asdasfr Bawd, Underpass, displays a complex understanding of the possibilities of electronic music driven by experimental rhythms and hyperactive samples.
For a young musician just discovering himself, Bawd shows an impeccable knowledge of various sub-genres of EDM and is able to blend them seamlessly into interesting soundscapes on Underpass. Introductory and title track, Underpass welcomes listeners with ominous minimalism; the choice of an airy flute as the lead instrument in the beginning of the track is reminiscent, definitely unintentionally, of another flute driven masterpiece of late (Belieb me, it’s not that noticeable). Is the flute making a cheeky break for the big-time in pop music? We can only hope. Our now familiar friend the flute soon gives way to enormous, synth-laden walls of polyrhythmic frenzy and Underpass settles into a trancelike free-for-all that would see even the most timid feet begin to tap.
The following track, Sayer is a fitting evolution from Underpass and introduces us to new textures of hi-hats with the familiar footwork sounds that begin to solidify themselves throughout the EP, making for an individuality that takes Underpass to a new level of coherence.
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The EP settles comfortably into its soundscapes by track three leaving the listener hoping for a change of pace from our powerful and danceable albeit repetitive grooves that have been established. Sly Defender drops a pinch more in the way of old school flavours and provides a much needed reprieve from some recycled drum sounds as well as mixing in some Hiatus Kaiyote-esque synthesizer colours which allude to a slightly darker theme and more complex harmony.
Lead single Alsp is certainly the standout of the EP with its dynamic complexity and deep bass pulses; it shows a more complex and faster-paced side of Bawd. The tongue twisting hyperactive vocal samples take the track to a new level and make for an instantly enjoyable assault of sound that adopts a thirst in the listener for more of this excitement and zest.
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While the majority of Underpass displays some flavours of EDM that are experimental and unique, some cuts are relatively pop-tinged. Negative Energy fits this description, with a sweet sounding female voice and repetitive, driving rhythm, it would be at home on any city club dance floor. Bawd is a sophisticated producer and never strays too far from the underlying rhythmic undertones of the EP. He seems to understand his musical direction and sticks closely to it, which is commendable but occasionally deprives the listener of a climax, a surprising twist in the sounds that are certainly groovy but sometimes lacking in melodic direction.
Underpass is an exploration of a colourful and unique mind; it is a danceable, interesting and unique combination of tracks that display intelligence and maturity in its composition and production. It’s a brilliant start for a skilled producer with a bright future and gets better with every listen.
Underpass is due out mid-October via Solitaire Records – you can pre-order via Bandcamp here.
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