After a huge 2017 which saw the emphatic release ‘Stay For It’ ft. Miguel reaching over 9 million streams and a feature headline tour of Australia/New Zealand, Los Angeles producer RL Grime aims to make 2018 his own with the highly anticipated debut album ‘NOVA’. With featured singles ‘Undo’, ‘Reims’ and ‘I Wanna Know’ already under his belt, ‘NOVA’ takes you on an emphatic journey full of suspense and force that acts as the masterstroke to the signature sound we’ve come to know and love with RL Grime.
‘NOVA’ begins with the cinematic adventure ‘Feel Free’, which allures the listener from its inception with the hypnotising marimba and is utilised as a catalyst for the build in anticipation with the accompanying pads and altered repeated vocal melody. Once the brooding bass is layered upon the penetrating percussion, we are led into a climatic drop full of force and gated synths that well and truly transcend the electricity that comes with an RL Grime set.
Following on from this, we are introduced to the collaborative section of ‘NOVA’ whereby RL Grime has enlisted some of the biggest names in music. We kick this section off with ‘Shrine’ which features the effortless vocals of Freya Ridings, acting as the catalyst for the emotional context that lies within the core of the track. RL Grime changes the pace up within this one through a Rudimental influenced ‘drum and bass’ pattern in the percussion that pulsates a driving feeling into the soundscape and further accentuates the force that lies within.
The highlight of ‘NOVA’ comes early in the piece with long-time collaborator Miguel enlisted alongside rising star Julia Michaels on ‘Light Me Up’. In similar fashion to stand alone release ‘Stay For It’, RL Grime manipulates the mix beautifully to allow significant amounts of space for Miguel’s charismatic and smooth melodies to act as a podium to enthral the listener immediately. As the chorus hits, an increased presence of synth smacks you across the face and combines with the higher register of Miguel’s vocal range to heighten the soundscape with impeccable results. We then see a contrast with the implementation of Julia Michaels entering the arena with careless and playful melodies that provide an intriguing splash of colour. When combined with Miguel, this results in a perfect cohesion that matches the constant shift in intensity throughout the track.
As we journey through the middle of the album listing within ‘NOVA’, we see in many instances the artillery of RL Grime on display with sheer mastery. This is accentuated within ‘Pressure’, a track full of intensity and off kilter energy that bleeds all over the mix. This is achieved through the strategic use of several sampled elements stabbing in and out of the piece throughout, as well as the simplistic yet enabling percussion that creates a dynamic energy in the pivotal moments. ‘Era’ sees RL Grime take this vigorous soundscape that step further, placing us into an arena full of fear and horror courtesy of the probing bass and rising percussion. Once the track lifts off through the soaring sirens, we gain a momentary reprieve in the form of a carefully placed breakdown where we can catch our breath momentarily before taking back off in the blink of an eye.
The final third of ‘NOVA’ treats listeners to a blend of contemplation and force to feast upon. This is most evident within ‘UCLA’ ft. 24hrs, a track that has humble begins of subtle bass and swooping pads laid in the foundations allowing for the RnB stylings of 24hrs to take control of carrying the attitude of the piece before RL Grime brings back the ferocity in the electronics to drive the track home. ‘Rainer’ echoes the cinematic adventures we’ve been taken through previously within the ambient synths and rising nature of the percussion that reaches its climatic point in an almost ‘rave’ like fashion.
‘NOVA’ wraps up its 15-track album listing with ‘Atoms’, taking a step back in momentum and leading with a lowered vocal before the crisp reverbed vocals of Jeremy Zucker sit atop of the piece. The climatic points of ‘Atoms’ are a true testament to the mastery of RL Grime with the perfection displayed from 2:08 as the producer configures the instrumentation into a ‘marching band’ sound which combines with the layered vocals of Zucker, echoes similar force of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ that transports the track into a whole new dimension that is truly astonishing.
In ‘NOVA’, fans are treated to a truly incredible album that may just be one of the finest pieces of electronic music we’ve ever seen.
RL Grime goes on tour in November, see details below.
Buy/Stream: WeDidit Records