Dubstep in Connecticut: enchanterDown
We once again depart from the implications of the title of our ongoing feature series, “Dubstep in Connecticut” to bring your ears some quality, local, electronic sounds that in no way fall under the 140 bpm influence. While last time that meant providing you with the best moombahton that the 203 has to offer, this time it means supplying you with the beats and instrumentals of long time New Britain artist Kevin Stewart, who has most recently been making music under the moniker “enchanterDown.” It is a rare thing these days to find a musician who is so unconcerned with his own ego so as to go without any kind of aggrandizing biography, but this is only further evidence to support the claim that enchanterDown is a part of a dying breed – the pure musician.
Unconcerned with public perception or his music’s reception, enchanterDown does not create music to be heard, but does so simply because he is driven to express himself through his particular brand of sonic art. As his time is split between two projects – his personal work and his collaborations with the electrofied sessionl band, Lion’s Memorial Pool – it is difficult to place exactly where enchanter’s musical style lays. While you could broadly brand his work as “experimental electronic,” he is most firmly rooted in innovating the long-tired sounds of hip hop. enchanterDown’s beats and beat tapes match future-hop to digitized analog synth sounds with inventive sampling and live instrumentation; this makes it fair enough to say that most of what you will hear below fits into the genre of dreamwave/doswave/chillwave, but also means that he is blazing a path all his own.
Let’s move onto some music, starting with a pair of older selections from Lion’s Memorial Pool as found on SoundCloud. With both of these tunes, a dark room or dark state of mind are recommended. As a group, Lion’s specializes in ambience, atmosphere, and creating music that is either chilling or relaxing depending on one’s particular mentality. Whichever side you fall on, this is music that has to be recognized for its fully cerebral nature and mind boggling performance value. Hopefully this former threesome of Connecticut musicians can recover from losing their drummer and continue to create such hard-to-compare-to jams in the future.
Here’s some picks from enchanterDown’s first full length release, Family, that appeared just after the new year in February. The following selections are favorites from the 13 track album that also appear on the artist’s SoundCloud page.
The first track from Family to really catch one’s attention is “Voodoo Forest.” Low decibel bass and a slow, dreary beat make this one seem quite intimidating right off the bat. However, as the samples begin to progressively build, “Voodoo Forest” goes through a complete attitude change. While a chilly, somewhat haunting atmosphere is maintained throughout, the added ambient sounds, percussion, string, key, and vocal samples make the album’s second track eerily upbeat. As you will continue to see from enchanterDown, his music functions as a particular juxtaposition between depression and hopeful creativity.
“Voodoo Forest” transitions into “Excuse Me (Things Only Get Better)” which may be the most powerful tune to be found on Family. Beginning once again with deep bass tones and a seductive, driving beat, “Excuse Me” inspires optimism in spite of something of a dark demeanor. Dominated by vocal sampling that is expertly looped and cunningly chopped, along with a guitar whose groove is undeniable, “Excuse Me” is beautiful without being overly complicated. This is not to say that a great deal of effort and musicianship did not go into this three minutes; the inherent artistry to this tune is obvious. While the closing/outro to “Excuse Me” may be a favorite aspect, one almost has to hate it as it means an end to this outstanding piece of music.
One personal favorite selection from Family has to be the middle track, “Knocking at my Door.” This artful arrangement of sampling and sounds ranging from vocals and winds, to synths and bass, to a variety of percussion elements on the part of enchanterDown have to recall a Boards of Canada or Black Moth Super Rainbow. While the vocals to dominate the song toward the end, it is truly what is going on in the background that fuels the evolution of the foreground, as in the case with many of enchanterDown’s works. For further examples of awesome sound design, listen to “Knocking At My Door” below.
“Kong You Rascal” appears toward the end of the album but is perhaps the finest piece of beatsmithing to be found on Family. While percussion elements tease and lead one on early in the track they progressively build to become “Kong’s” centerpiece. A variety of electronic sounds and samples get room to play throughout this miniature masterpiece. The most obvious aspect to enchanterDown’s work with this track is an ingenious reversal of sounds. Reversed elements overlap and interweave to such a degree that one has to wonder if this entire track has simply been reversed. Regardless, this tune is deep and is structured in such a way that it should be celebrated for its imaginative musicality.
Other tracks from this album that are not featured on SoundCloud that deserve a mention are “Brief Moments of Happiness” which is soulful and appropriately upbeat, and “Swirled” which again relies heavily on reversal, but this time achieves a tasty auditory sandwich of BMSR and BoC. Still, all the tunes included on this release are noteworthy in one way or another; “Don’t Press The Depressed,” for example, is one of the greatest song titles ever penned, and the hidden, live jam, thirteenth track, “My Birthday Only Exists In Sonic Form” is captivating for all the right reasons.
You can listen to the entire Family album below via the Bandcamp player. Bandcamp is also where you will find Family in its full glory, for free (or more if you’re feeling generous).
enchanterDown is affiliated with Grappa Frisbee Records, “A small DIY Net Label, based in New Haven, CT. Specializing in the Abstract side of fresh new music, arts and culture,” who counted Family as their 40th release. This local label represents some in-state artists but also stretches its reach around the world. Highly recommended listening from the GFR catalog include founder Ohsaurus out of Southington, and fellow locals Old Gold, as well as New York’s incomparable Nite Moves, and The Bay’s Choongum. As a whole, this artist collective specializes in inventive thought and free music; tomorrow they are releasing Decoy Talk an EP from DAEDRA and a tape from a yet to be announced newcomer to the lineup.