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Favorite ThisBoomBox downriverelectric Review

Published: July 13, 2010


By: Summer Li

On the first listen, I wasn’t sure whether or not BoomBox’s new album downriverlectric was electronic music at all. However, what the band does in this album is brilliant and completely masks its electronic elements underneath its layering of traditional instruments and percussion found usually in jazz, disco, or rock. BoomBox attempts to create its own derivative of electronic music while still including musical qualities of more classical genres of decades ago.

The wobbly chords of the electric guitar in “Watergun” and “Mr. Boogie Man” are reminiscent of seventies disco and soul, exuberant of not only the sensuality of the music of that era, but also just the right pace for a modern dancehall. The layering of claps is a technique that many electronic musicians use to establish a beat and this is heard consistently throughout the album, serving as the base rhythm in songs such as “Shakedown Street” and “Round and Round.”

What distinguishes downriverelectric from most other albums is the range of styles it encompasses from song to song. This is one of the few albums I’ve heard where I can safely say that no song sounds the same as any other. In fact, quite a few of them incorporate hip hop rhythms. “Dungeons” and “Kool Aid Smile” embrace a slower tempo but are more lighthearted than the typical trip hop or downtempo sound, while “Showboat” has a more cheerful breakbeat and southern twang.

“Headchange”, the second number on the album, immediately stuck out to me as a very modern-sounding electronic pop song, minus the absent synths. Instead, quick patterns of harmonics on the guitar and claps, enable that electronic sound. And that is what I find truly amazing about this band: the fact that they can reproduce synthesized sounds solely from their own instruments, away from the knobs and buttons.

The final song on the album is a reprise of “Watergun”, a trip hop track, swirling in psychedelic sounds, and almost unrecognizable from its original. It was in fact the only song on the album I thought sounded distinctly electronic because I could not identify the instruments, as I had for the others. This instrumental is a solid finale to the adventure that is downriverelectric, an album that has furthered my appreciation for the intricacies of electronic music production.

Tags: Livetronica