Editor’s Introduction: What a year 2013 has been! Between releasing “Run in Circles” with Vestron Vulture [link], the “Contagion EP” [link], then having “Contagion” released on Touched. [link], being called The Future of Electronica in Sykomindz Magazine [link], moving into the city of Pittsburgh, and a million other undertakings that will be reflected upon in this blog’s yearly wrap-up article, the blog has taken quite a backseat. In hopes to catch up before the year’s end, there will be several super-articles compiling all that has been missed in the last 12 months.
This particular article features several mini-reviews of records released this year. We featured catch-up articles like this in July, have part one of these mini reviews here and will stop at nothing until all of the interesting releases have been reflected upon. Let’s get started – the final installment.
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake
Continuing his return to music and ode to 2020k, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 by Justin Timberlake finds itself in the hands of Timbaland once again as the pair explore the boundaries of pop music through the use of extended compositions, coupled with live instrumentation, synthetic melodies, and sample based rhythms.
Unfortunately, Part 2 suffers the same fate as Part 1 [our review here] in terms of sounding too sterile, overproduced, and compressed. Sitting at an average of 6dB of dynamic range, all of the songs except the hidden track run notoriously hot and at times are so full of low and mid frequencies that the top-end shine is difficult to lend attention to. Interestingly enough, this is a technique Timbaland productions have begun to take on and since the release of the Justin projects have gotten better (see Beyonce’s self-titled release where the pristine sonics are still present, but with a tighter final mix). With these engineering flaws come a few on-purpose moments that don’t particularly sit well either. Most notably during “Only When I Walk Away,” a lead vocal distortion technique becomes so cumbersome that it’s a daunting, uncomfortable listen and seemingly impossible for a focus to be found anywhere other than Timberlake’s voice (ironically, the contorted vocal mixing used when distorting creates overtones that brighten the mix, but not for the better).
Don’t even try the vinyl. While owning both volumes on wax is a nice collectable purchase, the sound on it is devastatingly distorted, with analog concentration on overcompensated kick & bass aspects of all songs in The 2020 Experience collection, and it’s not your turntable.
The worst offender on The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 however, is the country/rock crossover “Drink You Away,” which unfortunately tumbles to the same fate as the Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton duet “Just a Fool” from the songstress’ Lotus record. Cliche alcoholic references flourish in between an uninspired throwback to the Pop-Country takeover of the 1990’s.
In a continuation of Timberlake’s time with NSYNC and solo artistry, The 2020 Experience – 2 of 2 does find its strength in the actual music. Its lead single “Take Back the Night” finds itself popped out with a unique horn section by the Benjamin Wright & The Benjamin Wright Orchestra, successfully recalling high-class jazz and disco influences that unfold under a relevant, mainstream umbrella. “TKO,” “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want),” and “Cabaret” also find themselves to be refreshing portions of this project.
bounty by Iamamiwhoami (2013 Physical Release)
Now that the hoopla behind the mystery of Iamamiwhoami has died down, the duo have successfully been caught up in a whirlwind of interviews, touring, and releasing their back catalog in physical form. bounty, the record that digitally started it all, found itself in a slew of vinyl delays, eventually releasing on wax a few months after it was promised.
It was well worth the wait, but judging from our “; John” and “Clump” reviews, as well as our extensive coverage of the band, one wouldn’t necessarily have to look far to know that Jonna Lee and Claes Bjorklund are held as celestial beings around 2020k. Both the CD and vinyl releases come equipped with a DVD containing all full videos from the bounty era and in keeping with the monochromatic artwork, in opposition to the black themed kin, the bounty vinyl is white.
Aside from its bump in clarity from being in lossless format and mastered to sound cohesive throughout its physical platform, bounty stays true to the original digital releases and while a full release of the prelude tracks would have been the icing on the cake, it’s best that the original intentions on the full length, already released songs have a proper space all to themselves instead of being overcrowded with additional material.