Sunday, 12 September 2010

Pariah - 'Safehouses' EP

This passing week saw the release of Pariah's new 6-track EP 'Safehouses'. The youngster originally from Scotland, born Arthur Cayzer, caught attention with the success of his debut single 'Detroit Falls/Orpheus' released back in April on the resurging R&S label. This EP established his talent, with two contrasting cuts; 'Detroit Falls' a Dilla inspired track with a complex hip-hop beat that lingers around the 80 bpm mark backed with classic vocal soul samples, as well as 'Orpheus' which fits better with the ever mutating UK Bass label, with a grooving 4x4 deep garage beat placed in conjunction with emotional female vocals and synth chords that recall the merging sounds of dubstep/garage/techno/house which artists such as Joy Orbison, George FitzGerald, xxxy and Disclosure are really pushing at this moment in time.

With the 'Safehouses' EP, Pariah once again displays a desire to experiment and not be confined to one expected style or genre. For a young man who is only releasing his second record on the classic Belgian R&S label which was revered throughout the 90s with it's sublime electro/rave records (Outlander's 'Vamp' is my favorutie of the releases - click here to listen), it would probably be the easier and safer option to select one style he feels comfortable with and to stick it. You've got to admire him for taking the challenging route of exploring different styles, and the fact he does so with such quality and confidence speaks volumes about this artists' talent.

You can almost split the EP up into 3 sections in terms of the style it adopts or explores. 'The Slump' and 'Prism' present more electro/techno influenced numbers, fitting into the 130 bpm territory explored so greatly by the R&S label in its heyday. 'The Slump' is composed of a polyrhythmic beat, the first established an old school sounding electro beat which is shortly accompanied by an 808 drum arrangement so regularly used by Addison Groove and Ramadanman. Although very complex, these contrasting beats complement each other nicely. Added layers of staggered chords, soaring synths and the increasingly prominent male vocal clips add emotion to a cold, well structured beat, elements which round off a very well produced track. 'Prism' however seems to be gaining the more attention of the two, although I think 'The Slump' matches it in terms of quality. An omnipresent acid bassline which is wonderfully arranged accompanies the strange stepping beat, which adds great accent on every first beat. The influence of Burial, one of Cayzer's favourite artists, can clearly be heard in the manipulation of vocals. The vocal samples on the track receive a similar distorted and distant effect to the ones we hear throughout 'Untrue', which results in an melancholic and emotional cry. As the track develops the vocals are looped into repetition, coinciding well with the introduction of soft synths chords as well as the strong acid bassline. 

'Railroad' and 'Crossed Out' provide the 2nd mid section if you like. These two tracks follow the suit set by 'Orpheus', fitting more kindly into the indefinable mutating style which is in fruition at present, placing itself somewhere between or around dubstep/garage/2-step/techno/house. 'Railroad' is one of the shortest tracks on the EP at 3 mins 36 secs, but it definitely makes the most of the time it has. One of the most emotional numbers on 'Safehouses', it is structured with a patient shuffling 2-step rhythm, which is occasionally replaced and accompanied by short intervals of lovely breakbeat arrangements. A beautiful synth harmony, which when combined with the ever distant wailing female vocals causes a tugging of the heart strings, punctuates this stepping beat very much in the mould of Burial. 'Crossed Out' is in my opinion the most dancefloor friendly track on the EP, and represents the height of its tempo. An altogether lighter and bass heavier track, a faster, skipping 2-step beat kicks things into action, which is later enhanced by a reverberating bassline after the drop. Strong circulating synths rally, and the looped diva vocal clips complete this, acting as an incentive to move onto the dancefloor rather than enhance the emotion of the track (as 'Hyph Mngo's' female vocals function). 
The final section is an altogether different exploration, something which touches on styles yet unexplored by Pariah. 'C-Beams', which I view as the best track on the EP, is a wonderfully produced glitch affair, electronic infused hip-hop. The first thing that came to mind when I heard the track was FlyLo, with a touch of Dilla. The beat is reminiscent of those brilliant old school hip-hop samples, but those alien, warped synth arrangements and distorted female vocals give the track a modern edge, associated with artists like FlyLo and Hudson Mohawke. The title track 'Safehouses' is the most experimental of the lot, and unexpected by myself. It's a beautiful but slightly haunting track. Lacking a beat, the track is made up of atmospheric ambience and wonderfully composed synth chord arrangements, which render this a track which wouldn't sound out of place in an intense thriller. It is testament to Cayzer's talent that he can include such an attempt in an EP where old school eletcro, dubstep, garage and glitch-hop are all touched upon.

'Safehouses' is a brilliant follow up by Pariah, and indication that this young producer deserves the hype he has received on the back of 'Detroit Falls/Orpheus'. However, we must remember this is only the 2nd EP which the youngster has produced, and he is still evidently exploring potential sounds. Although this is a brilliant effort, one of the highlights of the year for me, I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more from Pariah in the near future. You can listen to the EP below, as well as purchase it by clicking here

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