Following on from a feature performance at Coachella and headlining Listen Out festival, Sydney producer What So Not (aka Chris Emerson) finally delivers one of the most anticipated electronic albums from an Australian artist in recent times with the release of ‘Not All The Beautiful Things’; a 12-track electronic delight that tackles various different realms with impeccable results.
The latest release off the album ‘Beautiful’, captivates you from the moment it begins courtesy of the enthralling vocals of Swedish newcomer Winona Oak. As Oak carries the introduction, you would think that What So Not has taken this track into a ‘lighter’ soundscape through the minimalistic approach that is centred around the airiness within the vocal melodies. This thought is instantly quashed as a darkness swoops across the mix via the gated synthesizers, and rising percussion that leads to a resounding drop that brings forth imagery of a festival setting within our minds, as it provides the perfect podium for punters to lose themselves in the moment.
This ‘festival’ vibe we’ve come to know and love about What So Not continues through the intensified ‘Goh’. Teaming up with Skrillex and enlisting the vocals of KLP, ‘Goh’ has many individual layers within itself that when combined in the overall scheme of things creates a humungous piece of electronic music. KLP provides quite an impressive rock-punk feel in her vocals, giving a sense that she’s bared it all and given everything that’s humanly possible to give that empowered feeling. With various electronic elements smacking you in the face in ‘Goh’, the implementation of the electric guitar popping in and out of the mix provides a clever point of difference. The amount of movement created in the chorus is courtesy of the swooping natures of the synthesizers and sampled elements, allowing for that ‘banger’ mentality to infest the soundscape, which you could imagine an equally impressive live visual production would accompany.
The highlight of the album lies in the surprise collaboration with supergroup Toto titled ‘We Keep On Running’. The track begins with a central emphasis on electronic guitars, providing differing splashes of colour between the distortion and the single note riff that rings out through the mix. What So Not does not wish to rush to the chorus in ‘We Keep On Running’, rather choosing to carefully build the intensity with deep percussion making a strong core that lies underneath the melodies of Toto. As the chorus hits we see a more intensified delivery of Toto’s vocals that matches the vigorous synthetic melody, whilst still utilising the core within the contemplative feel of the verses to create an overall resounding pathway full of force. What stands out in ‘We Keep On Running’ is the latter half of the track, whereby What So Not draws the track back with the sole intention to lift it into the biggest possible chorus jam packed with synths and bass that leads to the emphatic ending it well and truly deserves.
Another feature within ‘Not All The Beautiful Things’ is that it features three tracks with Australian royalty Daniel Johns (Silverchair) – ‘Be Ok Again’, ‘If You Only Knew’ (featuring American fast riser San Holo) and ‘Same Mistakes’. Acting almost as an EP within an album, all three tracks express a sense of individuality from each other yet achieving consistency overall. We see a faster paced momentum in ‘Be Ok Again’, where there is a cohesive partnership between What So Not and Johns on vocals, to deliver the emotional character amongst the pouncing synthesizers surrounding it. ‘If You Only Knew’ moves into a haunting setting with Johns’ airy vocals heightened through the increased presence of bass and off-kilter percussion piercing in and out of the mix. The final track ‘Same Mistakes’ moves into a more downtempo feeling through Johns’ harmonised vocals carrying the forefront of the song. As we move through the track we see increasing presence of bass and percussion which is matched with strengthened delivery from Johns that leads to a notable ending full of electronic pleasure.
Overall What So Not has met all the high expectations within this debut offering, taking significant steps in the right direction to further strengthen himself as an electronic heavyweight.
Fans can catch him on his upcoming Australian tour in June. Tickets are available here.