WABZ – ARGYLE

wabz
Photo credit: Michael Wood

When I first heard Wabz at supporting I’lls at Howler last month, to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed. However right from the first listen, Argyle definitely changed my impression of this low profile Melbourne producer.

This debut formal release is a slow burner; an album chock full of nuanced downtempo tracks reminiscent of the early nineties electronic music coming out of Britain. The influence of UK garage is particularly present in his use of syncopated rhythms and chopped up sounds. This is apparent in tracks like “Alley” and “Blur.”

Although this is a long album, there is plenty of variety between each well ordered track to keep the interest of the listener. Argyle has a cinematic ambience which is slightly eerie for the first half. The scuttling percussion sounds, echoes and light piano/keyboard melodies particularly add to this mood and at moments it’s a little like an instrumental version of Portishead.

This album, as with a lot of music of the modern day, is hard to define in genre terms, however it certainly fits into a family of ambient and trance music (even if trance isn’t a cool term these days). Tracks like “Spacewalk” in particular have the repetitive aspects of trance and house with characteristic snatches of vocals. However, it is difficult to give any specific genre tags in this album as “Dreamscape” has longer spoken word parts that are similar to fellow genre-bender, DJ Shadow.

What interested me the most is the use live instruments, particularly at the tail end of the album. The guitar noodling adds a completely different dimension that is unexpected after “Sweetwater Creek” and despite not having as much of a jazz feel, tracks like “Confide In Me” and “Missing” remind me of Bonobo. I really like these highly emotive tracks and “Bloom” certainly gave me the feels with echo-y crones of “I trusted you.”

This come down at the end of the album makes me think that the whole album is structured like an emotional night out with the more upbeat beginning, dance-y middle tracks and the sadder guitar driven tracks at the end, bringing you home. But maybe its just because of the similarity between Wabz music and the many of the artists on Skins soundtracks, ah memories of misspent youth…

This great album comes at an interesting time in Australian music where tracks with electronic sounds and instruments dominate the airwaves. However, Wabz stands above the rest with his mastery of electronic arrangement as well as a seeming large mix of influences which could span from early nineties house to the younger genres like vaporwave.

Even if electronic music isn’t your vibe this album is worth a listen as it walks the fine line between being easily accessible and being well written and full of complexity.


THE BREAKDOWN:

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia.
Latest album:Argyle, out June 2015,
Sounds like: Four Tet, Bonobo, I’lls.
Say what? Nick of Wabz has been been producing the tracks on this album over the last three years but this is the first release by this underground producer.

Stay Classy, Rosa.

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