Theo Watkins - Glass HUman
Theo Watkins is 15 years old and sent us the bare minimum of information about his album, not calling it much more than "electronic, ambient, and a bit experimental." I like this kid. He gives us a basic idea of what to look out for without all the esoteric music history behind it and then lets us digest the music. As for the music itself on this six-track EP, it's a mix of electronic, ambient and experimental sounds.
Glass Human uses a myriad of samples and Watkins' own imagination to craft sometimes pleasant, sometimes jarring electronic compositions. Many of the songs seem to exist as a need to create rather than express, but the music isn't necessarily cold or emotionless. "Gust" ebbs in and out of loose sonic parameters while a smile of John Coltrane's "Naima" anchors the glossy electronic sound effects. The cover of Saint Etienne's "Heart Failed (In the Back of a Taxi)" is the standout cut, with a head-nodding handclap rhythm keeping things alive while oscillating synths and subtle percussive sounds skirt straight through the track.
On exploring this album you'll notice the title track is eight minutes long, and a knee-jerk reaction may be to ask why this isn't the strongest track on the album. It is, but it's also the weakest (oooh, duality). "Glass Human" is everything wrong and right with this EP; samples that seem at once both adventurous and arbitrary, hard drum breaks that use very simple patterns but don't go anywhere, random ambient bridges that stunt the mood while giving the listener time to breath…an interesting mess is still a mess. The other tracks suffer from more or less the same, nifty ideas (especially the eastern-influenced "Japanese Red Moon Rises") but distracted execution, and all to lesser degrees.
Overall, "Glass Human" should be listened to by anybody who thinks all kids do is post grams of themselves doing stupid faces. I'll give Watkins props to stepping out of the comfort zone of many budding musicians his age, because sampling does take an ear to pull off smoothly. There's more potential here than focus, but given the musician's age, that can be overcome with time and experience.
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