Downtown Utopia is a two-piece progressive blues-rock band from Ottawa, Canada, made up of Yan Dexter (keyboards) and Simon Besozzi (eight-string guitar). We officially started the project late 2015, but we've been playing together forever. We got a lot of recognition on YouTube for various covers we made, especially a rock version of the song ''River Flows In You'' by Yiruma that got over 200 000 views and was used as the theme song for a gaming channel. Design Your Charade is our first EP.
Design Your Charade is a four-track EP which opens with the upbeat “Cynically Ill.” The first ten tracks induced me with video-game nostalgia. I felt as if I was playing a never-before-seen level of Super Mario. Of course, this upbeat synth organ madness was quickly mashed together with brutal, metallic electric guitar. I’d been tricked by the quirky, timid opening. I love it all, of course. It’s wacky, but it’s brilliant. The synth runs are incredible, whirring and absolutely insane, but it’s all propelled into mind-blowingly awesome noise rock when the electric guitar comes into the mix. Around the midway point of the track, a brief burst of falsetto-esque vocals joins the mix which are just as weird, quirky and fun as the rest of the song. I have no idea what genre this might fall in; rock-jazz-video-game madness, perhaps?
Feeling exhausted in the best way possible after the first track, ‘Sloth Machine’ was more of the same, but in an entirely new way. Make sense? Well, if not, you’ll have to listen for yourself. I wouldn’t have been able to imagine this weirdness if I hadn’t heard it first. A pumping, electrifying guitar riff joins more synth organs with a sound that reminds me a little of The Doors - if they were completely bonkers. Again, this is all a compliment. I had no idea what was coming next at any point on this EP, and that’s part of why I loved it so much. There was a lot of complexity in the riffing, whether the rhythms were part of a synth or guitar solo.
“L.A. Babylon” takes the jazzy, organ-driven, electric guitar madness to darker levels. Almost as if it was an outtake of a slightly heavier version of Phantom of the Opera, Downtown Utopia plunges into the murky depths of both metal and jazz. Then, entirely unexpectedly, they emerge in an upbeat, joyous world, overwhelmed by running, whirring, complex synth and a raw guitar solo.
All in all, this was a unique and fun EP. With very few vocals and much more focus on the instrumental side of things, I definitely felt as if I was listening to the most bizarre, exciting soundtrack of my life, rather than a rock/electro duo’s latest EP release. It has to be heard to be believed, so don’t take my word for it. Go and listen for yourselves.
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