Balus is a producer hailing from North Carolina who just recently served up a four-track EP entitled awake. Awake is electric EP made of genres such as r&b, jazz, hip-hop and electronic. The music is chill, soothing and atmospheric. I couldn’t help but think of James Blake on occasion while listening to some of these songs.
Balus is subtle with his production and doesn’t force too many elements into a limited space. Take for instance the opener “awake in 3052//gone districts.” He takes his time building up the song around airy synths and precise hi-hats. A round robust bass drum comes in the mix along with a clean bass. Elements come and go as they please and they don’t feel forced. A smooth ride and what sounds like reverb tails of saxophones drift in the background giving the song a jazzy vibe. The song ends with this dream like state.
“young kelly” is also a smooth, slick track revolving around a hip-hop beat. The instrumentation is ambient and there isn’t one focal aspect to the music. It’s the groove and mood that takes your attention.
Balus lets the song breathe which leaves plenty of room for his vocals. “kept my eyes closed (feat. spencer conn)” is an example of this. The low end is taken up by a pitch shifting bass drum while the vocals lay low in the mix with plenty of room to spare. It’s easy to recognize his work on the hi-hat which seems to be somewhat of a staple that Balus implements.
He closes with “chain-ge// テープを打つためにイント” which may be the highlight. What I particularly enjoyed about this track was the timing and how elements are introduced. There is a hint of Oneohtrix Point Never.
Awake is a solid EP but it did feel like an appetizer. There were a couple of times I was wondering where these songs could go if fleshed out a little more. Overall, I can give this two thumbs up but I hope to hear an LP some time in the not too distant future.
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