Vital Voices: Vocal based electronica

Here at Beatradar we try to keep our focus firmly fixed on the underground. That means as an example that we very rarely approve vocal based tracks, as vocals typically pulls a track up to the more mainstream atmosphere.

But every now and then we do make an exception. Here are two such incidents:

Henry Green – Stay Here (Rohne Remix)

A wonderful chillout track, fantastic atmosphere. Lovely melody. Unique sounding without going the experimental route. And a vocal that at least fetched my attention and held it up until the very end.

I know this is not the last time I have this one rolling in my headset.

Erbaiwu – Desaturated

The calm tempo continues with this next track, but the similarities ends there. We’re on notably darker grounds now, with a track that takes strong vocal influences from classic rock song structures, all while following a production pallet in the world of EDM and underground rap. There’s also something indisputable eighties over this track. Without me using that as an argument against it.

Because, while the result is of a nature you really don’t expect to hear here on Beatradar, there’s something here that really just captivated me, making me hit that “approve” button.

I’ve decided to create a new Spotify playlist with “vocal electronica” being the theme, for these kind of tracks. That’s gonna be one awesome list!
But until I’ve got enough tracks on that list to make it public you’ll find these two on our “
Beatradar Selections” where we collect all our selections as we discover them.

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Harper Creek – The Same: The perfect Vocal Deep House track?

In order for a track to be selected for this blog I need to get enthusiastic about it. It can be a technically good track, do all the right things, but if it doesn’t tickle a certain subjective nerve in me, I usually let it pass.

But rarely, if ever, do one specific production inspire me to sit down and start creating a track of my own. I can dig the tracks, but I usually separate the musician in me from the music lover. Two mental departments.

That is, until now.
Here’s a track that triggered the writer in me like none before it. And the most puzzling part is that I don’t really understand why.

Harper Creek – The Same

In essence this track is what can only be described as an ultra-classic vocal deep house track.
Smooth like silk on a strippers curves, head-bopping funky guitar riffs, rock solid bass-line and a vocalist that dances around the groove of the track – never demanding too much of our attention.
I mean, it’s not like we haven’t come across this formula before. Plenty of times.

Problem is, I much prefer instrumental music, vocals usually just annoys me. Also, I like more upbeat, in your face music. Stuff that stomps.
So why did this track instantly trigger my head to start writing lyrics and arrange a new production (we’ll see if it materialise into something!)?

It’s probably the fact that each of the individual factors listed above just work so remarkably well together here. There’s no weak links in this chain! Nothing to put any finger on (except maybe for a tad too eager compression). It’s so perfectly smooth that it almost – but only almost – becomes a bit anonymous in all the flawlessness. Like a perfectly rendered 3D version of a real life object. Too perfect.

But damn it, this track is really well made. One of the best vocal based deep house tracks I’ve heard in a long time.

This track went straight into our playlist “The Deep Lounge”, where we collect all the real classy house joints into one magnificent playlist of awesomeness. You need that list in your life. Follow it today!

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Inka Upendo, “Mellow”: A gentle touch midst the dark beats

One of the things I love about writing this blog is that my scope for the blog, underground electronica, is constantly challenged.

Challenged, because I come across so many tracks that can’t be called strictly “underground” or artist “undiscovered”. Still, I just feel I need to write about it. And I hope you are with me on that.

This time it’s because of this lady, Inka Upendo from Finland. Her first single release, “Limbo”, has been played on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 Music, and she was invited back to play a session for BBC Music Introducing in Devon and Cornwall. She has performed live shows in Falmouth, Winchester and London, and at the festival Kontula Electronic in Finland.

So she definitely do not qualify to our definition of an “undiscovered electronica artist”. It’s rather that she is at a place where a lot others ultimately want to be.
But I think she’s well worthy of an exception to our house rules.

It’s easy to get associations to early Björk, but she’s definitely no copycat. And the track is so well produced. Not overproduced, not by a long shot, but with enough layers and details to warrant several plays.

It will be interesting to follow the future evolvement of this new talent. And that comes from a guy that basically prefer his music very underground, deep, dark and non-vocal. So that says something.

“Mellow” is added to our “Beatradar Selections“, a Spotify playlist that holds all our selections. It’s become quite the cool playlist with a very wide range of quality electronica.
So if tour taste in music is as diverse as mine, you’re more than welcome to follow it and enjoy our ride!

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O Future, “Telephone”:

Hot off the heels from my review of the gorgeous vocal performance featured in “Doesn’t matter”, I just have to give you one more.

This track actually made me realise how much I miss the original Twin Peaks soundtrack, and that absolutely stunning piece of music, “Falling“.
It holds some resemblance, this track here. It’s also quite retro/synthwave sounding, something that fits the vocals just perfectly.

And, yeah. The vocals. Let’s get to the point here.

The focal point. The centre of this tracks universe. The reason I picked this one up from the pool. The reason I fell into an instant state of bliss the moment it first tickled my ear drums… Let’s take a moment to discuss that voice.

I mean, come on… Come ON. Ah man, I don’t even know what to say.
I am out of words. I have nothing left in me but a punctuation. Here it comes: .

Tatum Gale – “Up2u”: Elegance in simplicity.

A buddy and I were discussing music here the other day when I said, “I wonder if I ever will accept a vocal-based track on the blog…”.

Thing is, generally speaking I can’t stand vocals. Not because I hate the human voice – I really don’t – but because there’s so much god damn stupid we choose to use our voice to express*. As soon as a vocalist takes centre stage in an arrangement, I tend to lose interest.

*-The ringing irony here is of course that I regularly do use vocals in my own music, and those lyrics are more often than not just just cheeky nonsense.

But enough about me. Point is, what happened just a couple of days after the above mentioned conversation? Oh but of course: I discover the first vocal based track to include in this blog.

And, it’s not just a track with a vocalist. Oh no. The vocals essentially carries the entire track on its shoulders:

I know, right? You do understand why I say “principles, begone“!

The vocals so clean, rhythmic, unaffected. A perfect deliverance of the melancholic lyrics. A voice of pure human soul in balance with the stripped down electronica soundtrack. The words are as clever as the arrangement, well mixed, well produced, and that surprising intermezzo mid-track… What a find.

A pure class act.

Some might argue, “but is this underground enough for this blog”?
Well, don’t stop with this track. The rest of his EP, with the generic title “EP 1”, is a great showcase for this creative mind. An exciting blend of ambient recordings, instrumentals and vocals. Cue up the wonderful “Do Not Disturb” and hear what I mean.

As of right now he only counts a handful of followers on the various streaming platforms, making this a truly undiscovered artist. And thus, becomes a perfect find for this blog.

A great start of the new week!