DREAMS > REALITY is the brand new EP from Sydney electro-pop wunderkind riddo. As the title suggests, it shows that life is better with your head in the clouds.
Combining intricate, psychedelic elements of sound design and inventive, catchy-as-fuck melodies, riddo. subverts the tropes of rap and pop. And on his new EP, appropriately titled DREAMS > REALITY, he’s having a lot of fun doing it.
The trap influence in the sound of riddo. is obvious (yes, the 808s are still slamming), but he brings a refreshingly maximal approach to the production of his tracks. The cavernous spaces have been traded for a kaleidoscopic array of synth motifs, distorted and detuned adlibs, and playful foley and sound design elements. Such ambition can, understandably, be met with trepidation. But in the case of DREAMS > REALITY, it’s a high-wire success.
The scene is set with the intro track SIDE B. Sounding like a sample from an over-the-top self-help seminar, it’s the perfect entrée to the empowerment anthem that is INTERSTELLAR. We meet riddo. in baritone mode, before launching into an upper register as our hero reports witnessing “all the colours of the galaxy”, supported by a fat, sawtooth synth riff.
DEADLINES is the melodious highlight of the EP. riddo. tells us, “I just wanna do what I wanna do” to a soundtrack of dramatic, staccato synth stabs. Like INTERSTELLAR, there’s another register shift, but this time riddo. catapults his voice into a shimmering falsetto — “I just wanna fly through the sky every night”, riddo. says. And amid this intoxicating backdrop, it’s hard not to get carried away by the simple innocence of this message.
LOVELIKE introduces a more introspective mood, and for a brief moment, the atmosphere is temporarily sombre. The highlight is in the hook: a maddening loop of “she don’t wanna love you like that”, which sounds like the warped voices in your head, detuned and assailing you from all angles (it’s a real treat listening to this with headphones).
The EP’s closer, CYBORG brings several new elements to the table. Otherworldly vocal treatments and a slightly elevated tempo with swinging dancefloor swagger are abundant. Dripping with distortion and 8-bit synth flourishes, it’s a surprisingly aggressive final chapter to this body of work.
DREAMS > REALITY is a dazzling statement of intent from riddo. Bursting with energy and ambition, all the cards are laid on the table. You can tell that every sinew has been worked here, but instead of feeling laborious, it’s euphoric.
DREAMS > REALITY is out now. Stream it below: