gramatik – #digitalfreedom [download]
The Slovenian-origin artist known as Gramatik already had some dope releases on his name, and after dropping his last hip-hop/synth hybrid album “No Shortcuts“ on Cold Busted in 2011, it was obvious he would fit in perfectly with the US-based Pretty Lights Music.
I came to know about Gramatik through his first three editions in Cold Busteds Street Bangerz series, which consist of uptempo instrumental hip hop tracks: Fat drums, dope cut samples, a tight groove, all combined in a tight sound. And then came “No Shortcuts”… Obviously grown in both taste and productions skills, Gramatik laid down an alternative dance album that took elements from several electronic genres and combined them together in the same fat sound as Street Bangerz. Combining beats, dubstep and drum & bass rhythms with a more breakbeat/breaks nerdy synth style, it came as a fresh breeze from the already mainstream oriented aforementioned genres.
Since Pretty lights was already dropping free albums in that same style, it was meant to be that Gramatik would join the ranks of his music label. After releasing his debut on the label “Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1″ (download here) in July 2011 his place was set.
On his latest EP release “#DigitalFreedom”, Gramatik takes it a step further and joins rank with several artists who provide an extra edge to the already rowdy party-jams. Gated trance-synths, wobbles, retriggers, vocal cuts… everything was already there on a bed of thick drums, but the additions pull the enjoyment factor up to 130%. Fist Up has some real dope guitar licks, and vocals by I Diggidy. The guitar returns more in the foreground on 23 Flavors, a crossover track between 90s synth transitions and wobble-less dubstep. The wobble does kick in together with I Diggidy on Illusion Of Choice, but since it’s accompanied by break-like arps it’s still very distant from that saturated UK sound.
On Born Ready, Gramatik takes a break and gets back into the bangers vibe with a steady kick-snare rhythm, without losing the overall hard groove of the release. More guitars and vocals by Bryn of Illumntr. This sidestep keeps the release interesting, as we’re being pulled back into the crazy gated wobbles of “Solidified”, on which Jay Fresh does the dope vocal cuts. As if that wouldn’t blow your mind, the final track “Talkbox Intended” features some of the sweetest talkbox lines by Temu. Until this track, I thought Chromeo came closest to Zapp & Roger. Forget it!
Next to techno, the US don’t really know what to do with dancemusic. But if the kids are rockin’ out to Gramatik and Pretty Lights, the tides may be turning. Get the release for free here, Facebook here, Soundcloud up here and Twitter down there.