Exposia – Exposia EP

Darkfloor: Our man in Bristol, Rob, gets into a new producers sound, blind.

I came to Exposia knowing nothing about him. I followed a link from a tweet that led me to Bandcamp for an eponymous 5 track EP.

One that further investigation seems to be his debut. In an ideal world, this is how I would be introduced to all new artists. Free of expectations and preconceptions, free of any wider critical context to dictate a percentage of my opinion of the artist before I’ve heard a second of music. Even the genre tags at the foot of the page left things delightfully vague. ‘Electronica, experimental, ambient, hip hop’ anyone’s guess… So now I’m going to take a moment to write a thorough analysis of how this music sounds, and shatter the blissful ignorance that the majority of you will most likely currently be experiencing with regards to ‘Exposia‘. Sorry. Hopefully you won’t hold that against me, as I have some very positive things to say about this EP, and, as I’m sure we’re all agreed that this isn’t an ideal world, it’s handy to be pointed in the direction of what’s good from time to time.

One tag that was omitted from the Bandcamp page was a term that seems pretty inescapable these days: ‘Bass Music’. Perhaps Exposia doesn’t consider this to fall under that bracket, or perhaps he’s sick of new terms and tags and wants to operate with the freedom that ‘electronica’ brings. Certainly, to my ears, this EP has a wealth of bass music influence, in amongst a wealth of others. Thankfully it pays equal respect to every camp it sits in, and still sits firmly in each. ‘Take It Back‘ is held together with a slick, shuffled wood block rhythm and has a warm, sidechained pad sitting at its bass. The beats are fantastically spacious, as is the overall production. The elements are refined and neat, but at no point does the mix feel sparse or empty. I’m instantly reminded of the early releases on Hessle Audio, and the laid back end of the current R&S roster.

This sound continues through second track, ‘Out There‘, building a little from the drone pads of the opener, into a pretty, yet tense arpeggiated hook. The production is still clean and spacious, but the ideas do tire through this track. I’m certainly ready for a change by the end, which is lucky, because ‘Hold Me Back‘ moves away from shuffled bass music, towards incredibly mellow hip hop territory. On first listen I had this song pegged as something of a token downtempo gesture, but I’ve warmed to it immensely. The elements are simple, but there’s a solid groove to the drums that keeps it ticking over, a swing that retains the bass music influence despite the drop in tempo. Again, the space is there, but the hip hop atmosphere brings a smokiness that alleviates the slightly clinical edge that started to creep in through ‘Out There‘. And this is certainly a worry, as while the production is elegant, when placed next to a track with any grit the mix sound starkly thin and a little underwhelming.

Thankfully, ‘Thin Air‘, as if aware of this complaint, brings in a variety of samples which add the missing grit perfectly. Water dripping in a cavernous space, chains or machinery rattling, and various other unrecognisable sounds which all go towards making this a much richer listening experience. The deep, dark nature of the track helps this along too. The tempo is back up, but the rhythm has been stripped back to a sub-heavy kick and an occasional shuffle, to remind you that we’re still in twitchy future garage territory, despite the majority of the mix sounding like atmospheric ambient.

Chances‘ drops the tempo again, but with a more straightforward hip-hop beat this time. Sadly, I find this to be the weakest track of the EP, with little variation throughout, and much less of the purposeful elegance of the others. There is also an out of key piano riff that crops up and muddies the mix occasionally, borrowing the notes from Moby’s ‘Porcelain‘, if not being a direct sample of it. Still, that being said, the track has a nice feel to it, and in isolation I could certainly see its merit.

My main reservation with this EP (and I suppose, with Exposia’s work overall) is that, as mentioned above, the cleanliness of his sound leaves the overall mix a little underwhelming. I can see the tracks falling out of DJs’ playlists as they struggle to find tracks that don’t swamp them in a mix, which is a terrible shame, as individually they are beautiful, elegant pieces of dance music. It’s a strong EP, with enough variation of style to keep things interesting, while still staying faithful to a cohesive sound. I’m going to keep an eye on Exposia, and see what comes next.

Exposia – Exposia
GRAB


Exposia – Take It Back
Exposia – Out There
Exposia – Hold Me Back
Exposia – Thin Air
Exposia – Chances

Jun 20, 2012