An idiom that has truly stood the test of time is that of humans being innately creatures of habit. Habitually, we tend to enjoy structure and defy chaos. Subsequently – like birds of a feather – we flock together. But despite releasing amongst genre-peers, one Atlanta-native’s dance-floor debut cements a foothold much more in tandem with its namesake Apollo as it defies the gravity of its peers to pull away into a stratosphere all of its own.
Still, to say that Paraleven shies away from external influence would be missing the point, as his generous, feature-littered 11-track first foray would betray. From the very first track are we treated to a perfectly symbiotic relationship between detuned saw-waves and the melancholy of Bien et Toi’s ethereal croonings. It’s not long before lightning strikes twice, three times, four, with track after track of purposeful contributions from the likes of Nathan Ball, Liza Flume and Melbourne darling Fractures.
It’s here that a behaviour analogous to opening track ‘Tidal Wave’ is established by Paraleven from the beginning and maintained throughout, as we as a listener dive under the wave of silence book-ending each track before emerging into another refreshing adaptation of melodic and progressive dance staples. Tactful implementations of organic percussion underneath high flying, whimsical stereo smatterings are coupled with a convicted restraint of the more abrasive sample selection and sound design of strict EDM tropes.
And it’s herein that full advantage of one of the greatest draws of the style occurs, being that of versatility. It’s has a form-defying gentleness that could just as easily soundtrack a dinner party as it could at any moment solidify into a driving rhythm that it would rally crowds into a festival-like frenzy. All the while remaining consistent in theme but never long in the tooth. Even more impressive, as one of the most welcome creative decisions here comes in the form of a tangibly courageous defiance of traditional pop and dance arrangement conformity. Exhibited by a lack of typical A/B structure and with more than half the album consisting of track lengths over six minutes, it quite happily takes the appropriate time to establish its own narrative pace.
No stranger to staple house labels the likes of Lane 8’s This Never Happened and this time around siding with Rose Avenue Records and the folks behind the reputation-preceding Rüfüs Du Sol themselves, it would be easy for Paraleven to rest upon the laurels of popular preceding artists and genres. Instead, much like both the space-traversing theme of the album and the tenure of the artist behind it alike, what we are treated to is a deeply insightful and deliberate discography that is invigoratingly re-energizing not despite, but due to its adolescence. Like the first of us who dreamed of what came beyond, Apollo incites starry-eyed hope that this is far from Paraleven‘s final frontier.