12 May 2009

Wrap Your Ears Around This Artist - 12 May 2009

I've finally found time to sit down and write about my next W.Y.E.A.T. Artist! One of my jobs has been calling me in a lot lately because business is truly picking up. 

My professional life has eased just enough, so I thought it's about time to get writting.

Here is the Wrap Your Ears Around This Artist: alka.

(the music used for this review is taken from the "Principles of Suffocation" album)

Alka is a renaissance man of sorts. If you take the Wikipedia term of Polymath and apply it to our resident artist of the moment, he would have to excel knowledge wise in several areas. 

In alka's case, these areas are in music, science and math (the three word description he shares with us on his myspace page). 

Okay, okay. Let me explain.

To listen to his music, you can hear the mathematics behind his thought processes. He lays out simple/complex/what-have-you melodies (along the lines of Orbit, the Orb, Future Sound of London, etc) with complementary sounds and beats to create support for his musical thesis. The sounds are so delicately placed as to "go well with wide open spaces or condensed urban settings... it is the place where lucidity and obscurity meet." (http://www.myspace.com/alka

Touching on the subject of his music, and not to sound overly redundant, it is stylistically intriguing. When you think you hear all the sounds coming out of your speaker that when you switch to headphones, another world is opened up to you. Songs like "decompose" and "furtive" almost seem to take on another life of their own bringing your assumptions on where he is going to a different plane.

Now, delving into science, we have to swing over into emotional studies. One of alka's goals is to bring emotion into a genre of music that seems to have a lack thereof. 

You're going to have to excuse me a bit if it seems I'm meandering a bit here. I've been reading Machiavelli's The Prince and so that might be the reason why. So bear with me!

While pondering alka's music, I've tried to come up with a label, of sorts, to best describe what I hear. This took me from "Reflectively melancholic" (not depressed or sad, just disjointed from present reality to focus on things of the past), to "forming" to "letting be."

Why did I choose these three tags? I'll take you through a few songs which support my different theories.

Reflectively melancholic would best describe the songs "side of a mountain" and "digging a hole." These songs use melodic devices to best utilize the mind's eye so one can see or sense where the artist is going. Slow movements with unique keyboards simulate the struggle of climbing a mountain. It's not too fast, but there is still a part of you that can sense the huffing and puffing of an out of shape person doing the best they can to keep up with the kids who have an endless amount of energy. While, with "digging a hole," you can use those same points to imagine your foot stomping down on the edge of a shovel for leverage against the unrelenting dirt. 

Stepping into the territory of "forming," I'd have to take the songs "i fell down a deep well" and "abandon": two sides of this unique coin. When I initially heard the first song mentioned, I thought to myself there has to be some sort of tongue-in-cheek humor going on here. This HAS to be the happiest falling down of a well I've ever thought of.  My mind was immediately brought to the Brian Regan comedy skit where he reenacts Evel Knievel's mindset (after being asked the same question of "What was going through your mind before...?") before he had a terrible crash, "I think I want a puppy."

(Yes, my mind usually reverts to sarcasm in situations such as this)

The song has a light, airy feel to it. Which, after further inspection, can simulate that gut-in-your-throat feeling one gets while falling down. One or two things can be happening here: 1) he's trying to get you to make up your mind as to which emotion you want to place or 2) he's forming you as to which emotion he's trying to share. 

Either way, it's a win-win situation. On one hand, you make the choice and on the other you both share a moment of enlightenment. 

"abandon," on the other hand, doesn't come with much guesswork involved. It is dark, almost brooding, and keeps you on the same path working toward some sort of breakthrough. You've got to keep on to the end of the song, or all those "hours" of therapy will not be worth it!

The final tag, "letting be," is one that came to me recently. You can see this in two ways, as well. One way is to let the emotions happen, and the other is don't hold the emotions back. "furtive," "a modest collection of lint" and "the clouds are quite whispy" bring this tag to life. The last two bring me back to my childhood. Children seem to get excited by the simplest of things! The clouds, forming into "cave"-like shapes where your cognitive skills associate labels such as "cat" or "choo-choo train," can bring hours of joy to a young one. Also, a mother finding a weird collection of lint under he child's bed who's been hiding it and molding it for some untold reason. The recollection of "letting be" comes to the fore. You let the smiles form because they're great memories. 

The second bullet point which comes to mind is don't hold the emotions back. Emotions are fickle things, and the longer you don't show them, the more damaging they can be to you.

Yes, there are situations where you have to keep your emotions in check or they can get the better of you. While reading Tom Clancy's "Special Forces," after three days of an intense exercise, a detachment of Green Berets came back just AMPED at the intensity of what they had just participated in. They chatted non-stop about the ins and outs, the ups and downs of what they had endured. That's three days of bottled up adrenaline finally coming out.

While reflecting on the song "furtive" I could sense the subversive role emotions can have if they are not properly dealt with. They seem so innocuous at first, but the longer they go unchecked, the darker and more melancholy they can be when they eventually surface.

So, what is my conclusion about all of this. Which one of the three is it?

Here's a hint just to rile you up: buy the album and find out for your self.

Alka's next release is due to hit shelves sometime next month so stay tuned to this blog and you may get a taste of what's coming!

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