(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, June 20, 2011

CD review - Cassettes Won't Listen, EVINSPACEY (2011)

Electronic artist/producer Jason Drake, AKA Cassettes Won't Listen, elicited exactly the response he was looking for to promote his new album. After announcing that the new project's title would reference a famous actor's name, he was immediately hit with a cease and desist order. Net result: a new title: EVINSPACEY.

So, a great actor's reputation is somehow protected and Cassettes Won't Listen gets the desired PR. None of this makes any practical sense: the music isn't controversial and doesn't seem to directly reference Kevin Spacey (unless the line in Runtime was added after the court order: "You hide behind your fame, I stand behind my name, a blanket secret just to call you out"). This whole episode has less foundation than Drake's last cease and desist, a mashup of Ludacris and Guns N' Roses (Ludacris Democracy).

But enough hype, the bottom line is always the music. EVINSPACEY explores a rich melding of modern electro pop and retro synth wave grooves. Cassettes Won't Listen updates the old school electronic sound of Gary Numan, Kraftwork, and even Missing Persons, by balancing them against tight electro pop beats and more modern electronic elements like glitch and dub step. The songs vary in feel from the bobbing electro funk beat of Friendly Fire to the indie rock/synth wave groove of The Night Shines to a glitch step influenced The Echoes.

EVINSPACEY's first single, Perfect Day, bridges indie rock and electro pop. The bouncy rhythm and repetitive vocal line of the chorus fall together sweetly. The verses take the poppiest elements of the Flaming Lips and distill them into dreamy pop beauty. Repeated listening reveals subtle little touches: occasional back masked drum beats, tight high hat cymbal work, and low synth line meandering along the bottom of the track. The light feel of the track is a stark counterpoint to the video.

My favorite track, Stuck, hits a similar electro indie rock sound on the verses, but the other song section shifts into a hypnotic, trancy feel. The rhythm is complex and syncopated but the beat of the bass line sways more loosely.

The Night Shines is the best example of the hybrid electro synth wave sound. The staccato keyboard chop and low effect vocals set a moody tension. The sweeping LFO synth parts in the background and the emphasized beat in the chorus are more modern touches.

EVINSPACEY is full of great electronic grooves and a fresh feel to the mix. Like a shot of lime vodka, it's a riff on a classic idea. Try a taste and see if it works for you.

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