Leo Alexander started listening to R&B music like Brandy, Usher, & Ginuwine in the ‘90s when he was growing up and in the last ten years listening to electronic and EDM music. His album Zodiac unequivocally showcases both sides with the music aligning with more experimental electronic music and the vocals being more aligned with straightforward R&B. Alexander mentioned that artists like FKA twigs, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd were influences and that makes sense when listening to Zodiac. The common traits such as the cutting edge production, the soulful vocals and the willingness to experiment that all the aforementioned artists possess is also present with Leo Alexander.
According to the notes on Bandcamp, Leo Alexander got to work with very talented people for the production to get to this level. There are a ample amount of little nuances and subtleties throughout the songs that is reserved for production value that resides in the upper echelon.
I knew I was in for a good ride when I started listening to “OPERATION Z.” The music revolves around disparate elements and unconventional timing that feels as if it could fall apart. It’s a great mix of sounds and becomes hypnotic the more you listen to as if you are meditating on a mantra spoken by an alien mother ship. Alexander’s soulful vocals are the juxtaposition that really brings the song to the next level.
“Blade Runner (feat. Mikeavelli The Great)” establishes a solid beat and forward moving momentum. It’s a highlight on the album that is full of infectious hooks and an exceptional performance by Mikeavelli The Great. More next level type production is implemented on “Toy Solider.” I’m not going to go into details but just listen - you will be impressed. I understand music is subjective but I think most people would put the song “Tell Me” in their top three songs on the album. “Tell Me” is arguably the most single ready song on the album as Alexander’s vocals are the anchor in this song.
The music on “Eyes Wide Open” bring to mind an artist like Four Tet while “Heartbreak Hotel” has deep low end bass that makes it the most club worthy song on the album.
One of the reasons Zodiac works so well is because even though the songs feel distinct and uniquely their own they are sewn from a similar cloth. Alexander manages to pull of this delicate balancing act, which is really a key component in separating a good album from a great album.
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