2 out of 5
Label: WeMe Records
Produced by: Black Narcissus
This surely plays to a certain type of electronic music fan that… is not me. Black Narcissus’ – aka Jodey Kendrick – Varla is a fast-paced cut of old school dancefloor romps, filtered through a bit of 90s IDM manicness. That sounds appealing, and surely the various aspects of that – beats that hit you in the gut; funky percussion flourish; killer synth lines – are all over the release, but something about the construction of the album ends up feeling very anonymous, like cool concepts that are floating around but not formed into anything concrete. I could pick at the way the tracks are all named ‘Varla,’ but it’s not like that HAS to be indicative of this anonymity, although it is somewhat coincidental, here. Some of the sides fare better – the B- and D-sides have tracks that feel fully considered, laying down some pretty deep grooves that stick because Narcissus innovates on them, actually giving the cut some layers. Elsewhere, though, these are almost like breaks, in the sense that Varla has some absolutely body-moving energy, but it just drops in and drops out. I can even be down with the club-type approach for which, I’d guess, these high-BPM electro jams are aiming, but then BN should’ve let those songs ride a bit longer, or at least mix things up once the various elements are introduced with some push-and-pull, instead of allowing tracks to just loop on repeat.
It makes for a disconnected experience in which your toes is almost always tapping along, but the music never seems to quite go anywhere, with beats that suddenly stuck out seeming to just dissipate without any payoff.