Hip-hop and electro have a logical overlap in their often-looped rhythm sections and in their production. For some this may seem like a long bridge to connect the genres, but Champion Sound by A. Sarr (the stage name of Andrew Sarrion) exhibits how natural blending the two can be.
Don't get me wrong: Sarr's is a strange sound. Though what's been mentioned already serves as a common thread throughout the five-track EP, Sarr draws some diverse electronic soundscapes splashed with some outside influences as well. There's an acoustic strum at the heartbeat of “Artkarma” that rises and falls beneath the continuous warmth of glowing synths and Sarr's slow-drawn vocals. “20Sided” pulses like a trance song, switching between the subdued verses before surging into momentous combination of an uplifting synth line and a clipped, replayed vocal piece. “Drippy” comes the closest to being a straightforward pop song, at least at the start: a mechanical beat and thin-sounding guitar riff take lead over light electronic elements as Sarr begins singing. But things build as we move further into the song, and soon bursts of electro goodness rise above everything else, even the vocals, and refuse to ebb away until the track ends.
The defining feature of Champion Sound is how every song transforms at one point or another. And while there are elements of trance, house, hip-hop and other genres at work, nothing is a constant. This is usually done by adding more layers onto a piece rather than completely changing what it is.
The opener, “prettylites” does this the most despite being the shortest of all the songs. It's a bit overwhelming at first, particularly when you have two vocal bits going in two different directions. If you're in it for the lyrics then you're forced to pay attention to catch everything, but at the same time if that is the case then I feel like you're missing the point in a way. Champion Sound is a textural experience, something to be heard through a pair of headphones and to get lost in. The meaning of the words are in my opinion less important than how they are delivered, and be it through singing or rapping (a trick used a handful of times) there's almost a weariness to Sarr's delivery that causes his voice to blend nicely into everything else.
Two guests are credited on the album. The first, Frank Grimesz, took over production for “prettylites” perhaps explaining why it's such a departure from the rest of the EP. The other is Naomi Bowler, who sings a large part of “Sensiblero.” It's a nice pairing: whereas Sarr's voice carries an ethereal quality to it, Bowler at times almost has a sense of urgency, especially when the two sing the chorus together.
There's no one label that fits Champion Sound perfectly. Sarr himself describes it with a slew of genres (just a few: electro pop, future R&B, house). I suppose it would be fair to call it electronic music since that's how every song is constructed but at the same time I worry that does too much to put the EP in a box. There are so many sounds and styles here that it must be heard to be understood.
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