By Doc Vocado
Top Tracks: “Bluestep”, “We Used to Dream”, “Just Jamming NYC”, “It’s Just A Ride”.
Earlier this year, Slovenian producer/ performer Gramatik released an album synthesizing a wide arrangement of hip hop drums, psychadelic riffs, and electronic glitches that combine to satisfy an eclectic range of audiophiles. Entitled The Age of Reason, the album offers a unique mix of jazz, dubstep, and funk- inspired sounds that embody the style of production that makes Gramatik such a unique artist. His music seems to be categorized differently on every website where he’s discussed, but if I had to choose one word, “chillstep” works well.
The album title, and a song titled “Expect Us” allude to the modern enlightenment movement and information freedom political paradigm derived from the hacktivist group Anonymous. Gramatik is signed to the electronic music label Pretty Lights, which features a variety of artists who have protested censorship legislation such as SOPA by encouraging fans to download their music for free despite it being sold on iTunes.
This album shows why Gramatik plays such a key role in the EDM community. Representing a group of genres that has exploded in the past half- decade into the modern- day Woodstock, EDM as portrayed on The Age of Reason offers a more mellow take on the music style that may be more inviting to newer fans who are still intimidated by heavier dubstep, trap, and house instrumentals. Personally, I find the album satisfying because of its expert polymerization of brass melodies and MIDI glitch sounds that epitomize the marriage of jazz, hip hop, blues, and electro that wholly amount to what I referred to as chillstep or bluestep.
To clarify, this album is very much a complete project, and it would do injustice to the whole to place some songs above others. However, I handpicked a few songs which I found to illustrate Gramatik’s unique style.
• “Bluestep”, what I’d consider the album’s signature track is a monstrous. 8-minute demonstration of production expertise that combines glitchy riffs with soulful vocal samples, amounting to a showcase of Gramatik’s ellow permutation of dubstep. His blues- inspired vocal samples are simple and infrequent, but they offer something to electro newcomers who may find themselves turned off by the secondary nature of vocals in a lot of EDM songs.
• “We Used to Dream” features frequent co- performer Gibbz, and offers what is perhaps the album’s most vocal song. A soothing mix of rap- inspired claps and a glitchy piano melody make this track a great one just to vibe to, and provide the listeners with a brief hiatus from the more dubstep- focused tracks of the project.
• “Just Jamming NYC”, like “Bluestep” had to make the cut for me, because its soothing bassline and autotuned vocal samples oh so perfectly inject you with that distinctive chillstep feel. A piano harmony lays the foundation of this track, tearing Ableton Live bars straight off the computer screen, and teleporting a hypnotized listener to what feels like an upscale Jazz club.
Honorable Mentions: “Brave Men” Feat. Eskobars, “Pardon My French”, “It’s Just A Ride”