Depressed chaotic psych-bass grooves.
What initially drew me to Naytronix, the solo project of Nate Brenner (Tune-Yards) was his knack for pulling off quirky grooves and underestimated earworms. His third album “Air” is wildly overlooked and his latest album “Other Possibilities” takes that jaded groove and slows it down to a T-Rex like jam. It is an interesting take on bass grooves but it has quite a narrow scope for who’ll appreciate it most.
Instead of having quick tempo beats, here, the music is largely lethargic and depressed. Even in the funk-laden closer “Give It Away”, the beats might be skipping but the vocals are treated like a tape warped ghost and the synths have a wheezy thinness to them. Everything feels spaced out like a dream and this comes from the unusual b-movie horror evoking chord progressions to the atonal layers of vocals and bass. Nothing feels settled either as the production is purposely grubby and mashed up. I really like the dirty sound the album has and when the drums have a chunk to them, the groove is totally sold.
Album highlights include the opener “Indigo” which gives possibly the most melodic track and accessible track on the album. The chorus of vocal layers and tripping drums gives the impression that the sheer confusion and frustration pouring out of this album could be a playful one too but it rarely returns to that flavour. Instead, it is more about the lifeless misery of “Die of Love” where every sound has been sucked dry. There’s the sweet reggae-lite “Somebody” that doubles as a lullaby too. It is an inspired mash-up of styles and feels timeless in a weird way. My personal favourite track on the album is “One More Try” because it transitions from a brooding simmer into a cascading synth melody that evokes a hopeful nadir. It then uses that synth melody and slowly drowns it in the muddy mix of the music and sonically subdues that possibility for a happier ending.
For each song that does something creative, there is another song that feels a little lost and difficult to break into. The nature of this album is of confusion and awkwardness and that translates into riffs that feel part freeform, part stilted and verses that lack a catch or motif. It’s because the songs are designed to lead you around garden paths musically. That meant I was nodding my head along and enjoying the journey but I then struggled to connect with the songs as much as I did with “Air” last time around. I delayed reviewing the album to see if I’d get that connection and for some tracks, I have. Others still elude me though.
I think this musical journey will be the hallmark of many listeners to “Other Possibilities”. It is an album that goes out of its way to not give you direct answers, riffs or gratification. To do that well, you often need a payoff or a big moment somewhere that brings everything all together and I’m not sure the album does that. I’m sure it’ll continue to grow on me over time. Naytronix continues to prove that he can wield a bass and a drum machine like a demon though, even if this album didn’t completely click with me.
Recommended track: Somebody
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