New York City’s Metabards’ material has been described as “the most fascinating electronic music you’ll hear all year”; their unique brand of “Eastern-tinged trip hop” is the brainchild of a duo with distinct experiences and intriguing musical backgrounds. As a group, members (and cousins) Tiaya and Wisa1 have only played three shows (Teknival in France, Warmer Fest in Brussels and Santiago de Cuba) but their new collection of recordings is tightly mixed and immaculately produced. Enjoy our review of Metabards’ self-titled EP reviewed in full below.
‘Prometheus’ opens with glitches and phasing before an expertly played upright bass enters. The funky bass line bounces overtop a cracking snare drum, the drums keeping rhythm before female vocals are introduced in a tantalizing fashion. These vocals are recorded very well, the mix is excellent and the production is above average. Soaring vocals that begin to recede only to come back stronger than ever in a flowing rhythmic pattern are strong points within each memorable chorus. The song really sounds huge; you’ve really got to hand it to the mastering engineers (Dave Benck & Javier Valverde) for their work on this composition. Everything sounds incredibly professional and well-done and there are many different sections to the song. With so much going on throughout the song never fails to intrigue and interest the listener. Beautiful harmonies enter towards the later parts of the song accompanied by stellar bass play. The tone of the instruments, including the vocals, fits perfectly. ‘Paradise Found’ follows with ambiance, more glitches and heavily echoed, synthesized vocals. Chanting vocals are hauntingly present coupled with a powerful sub-bass and drums. The vocal melody in the verses is memorable and extremely likable, as are the captivating vocals in the choruses that are performed expertly. The production of this recording is again fantastic, even better here than on the previous offering. There are no errors in the vocal performance and the lyrical content is intelligent and engaging.
Remixes of these two songs comprise the rest of the self-titled release. Krimshok’s remix of ‘Prometheus’ immediately exudes a more electronic vibe with vocals that are more in the background than the foreground, the vocals distorted and phased to create a disoriented feel in the listener. A new snare pattern and drum pattern overall is created for this take; the drums sound great. The sound is again, huge, and the song is excellently produced, the instrumentation again on point. Huge entrances from distorted instruments tease listeners, becoming quiet momentarily only to explode seconds later. This interpretation had potential to develop even further but took too long to get there; the original version of the song varies frequently, and does so effortlessly. This rendering of the original song was not particularly a preferable one; while it is very impressive production-wise as a development of a musical idea it is much too simplistic and takes much too long to fully flourish. Dopamine’s remix of ‘Paradise Found’ follows and is immediately likable from the first few notes. A moving, pulsating synth melody shakes the listener, making them feel as if they’re losing control before intense female vocals enter within the verse passage. The drums are excellent, again, as is the production; this was, sonically, a pleasure to listen to, even though some sections (specifically, the pre-chorus, chorus and bridge sections) weren’t exactly clear or overtly specified. It also contained fully instrumental sections that lacked lyrics, making it even tougher to distinguish between different parts. The song could’ve been strengthened overall with a more powerful chorus and could have used powerful foundational chord progressions found later in the song more to their advantage. The song could’ve been even further improved with a deviation from the chord progression that occurred throughout the entire song to further engage and captivate listeners. Dopamine’s dub version of ‘Paradise Found’ closed the album with singular, echoed vocals overtop the same interesting beat from the previous track. The same synth is again present, as are similar chanting vocals that enter after one minute in. An additional melody enters after the vocals recede into the mix, shortly followed by a third melody. There was no lack of creativity here: further additional melodies, instruments and parts are added to captivate the attention of listeners as the recording progresses. What this interpretation needed, though, was varying sections to alternate between. This rendering again is an example of building off a singular idea (from the previous arrangement) while expanding and developing but not deviating at all. This arrangement contains a very likable motif, it is just certainly overdone by the time four minutes comes around. While neither take deviates from the original motif, this latter take is definitely preferable, both sound and arrangement-wise. In order to get a better read on Metabards I’d need to hear more original material; this album, while promising, only gives a minuscule look into the creativity and talent of Wisa1 and Tianya.