813 Recolor EP
It probably went mostly unnoticed when Russian producer 813 (a.k.a. Alexander Goryachev) posted "The Whaler" on SoundCloud in early 2011. Though the track garnered sufficient applause from like-minded fans, it took two years for the song to manifest as part of a physical release. Despite the delay, "The Whaler" can now be found—along with six other tracks—on the Recolor EP, the first offering of the year from Slugabed's Activia Benz imprint. The record explores familiar terrain, using footwork- and chiptune-inspired beats on par with Russia's most notable beatmakers. Its sound palette may not be original, but Goryachev does a solid job of distinguishing himself from his peers. Most of the Recolor EP finds him slowing things down to a mellow groove, allowing the listener to appreciate the fine production values which might be lost in, say, the furious meanderings often favored by fellow Russians Pixelord or DZA.
The triumphant "Fantasmo feat. Bobby Tank" and the '80s-reminiscent "Crystal RAW"—two more selections from 813's past—also appear on the record. Both tracks originally popped up on SoundCloud in the months following the debut of "The Whaler," and at that time, their hyperactive, metal-tinged aesthetic offered a fresh sound. In particular, "Crystal RAW"—where a finger-tapping solo indecisively flutters into skyrocketing keys—showcases this musical formula at its best. That said, hearing these tracks nearly two years later, they come across as far less innovative, simply because the aesthetic has become so ubiquitous. Make no mistake—these are not bad songs, or even unoriginal ones, but the impact of Recolor is undoubtedly lessened by this delay. It doesn't help matters that even some of the EP's newer tracks, like "Frosty Morning" and "Elastique," operate safely within the confines of dreamy electronic pop, failing to push any boundaries or evoke much excitement.
Still, Recolor does have its pleasant attributes. "256 Colors," the EP's most club-friendly number, introduces a new aspect of 813's sound. Featuring a beat that lands somewhere in the ether between hip-hop, footwork, and house, the track also rolls out a lambasting bassline that's sure to rile up the dancefloor. The hypnotic, pitch-shifted lyrics—which repeat the line "Let yourself go"—only add to the song's rhythm and excitement, characteristics unmatched by the EP's other tracks. Another highlight is "Charger," whose thuggish, crow-hawking beats could be interpreted as a musical parallel to Goraychev's day job as a firefighter; one can imagine him dodging flames and saving lives as the track unfolds.
Without question, the Recolor EP would have been better served by a release last year or even the year before, yet the record still holds up. For instance, "The Whaler," now an ancient track by today's standards, is still capable of effortlessly capturing the imagination and running with it. At the same time, hopes were high for Recolor, and in the end, it's less of a transcendent statement and more like a simple sigh of relief, both for 813 and those who have been holding out for the proper release of these tracks.
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