Sick Gemini actually recorded Unison in two parts, with the second half to be released next year. Part one is four tracks of dance music that experiments with a range of styles, primarily funk and disco, and tries to update all genres involved. At its core though Unison would find a home in the speakers of any nightclub.
The beats are usual dance fare, offering little in the way of variation or change-ups on any given track. But the ear is drawn to other pieces of the songs first and foremost. At the top are Anna Patuto's vocals: it's less about what she sings and more about how she sings it. There's something instantly hypnotic to how she draws out phrases, often in contrast to the rapid blips of synth and guitar that underline her voice.
The second biggest hook is the guitar work, which is surprising given how sparse it seems. Sick Gemini avoid the “walls of sound” route by treating guitar like they do synth, focusing more on waves and rushes of single notes to lift and pull the melodies instead of putting all the weight on chords. It's here where their disco influence is most evident, though it doesn't sound old or dated.
The song structures on Unison employ an interesting tactic: complexity is saved for the bridge while the verses are—comparatively—minimal. That isn't to say there are moments where things inexplicably go quiet or that there are lulls in the action—the transitions are seamless. I get the impression that sections for singing and sections for playing were designed to be as distinct from one another as possible. But at no point do the bridges feel out of place or that they are artificially extending the songs somehow. They still maintain the feel and flow of dance songs (thanks largely to the consistent beats), even when dabbling in other genres.
There are two tracks that I feel define the EP and deserve the most attention. The first is the opener, “The Night.” Strobing synths carry the bulk of the load here with a few catchy guitar riffs sprinkled throughout to add some depth to the repetition. But pay close attention to the chorus: behind Patuto's warning that she'll become your obsession are another set of vocals rising up, barely audible but still commanding your attention, adding another hook to the already infectious track.
The second song is “Balance.” Sick Gemini state that their mission is to create a “genuine sonic experience,” and nowhere is that more clear than this song. It's meant to be heard through headphones with great stereo effects used for alternating sounds from side to side with a steady pulse. There's less singing here, allowing for what's happening in the background to take the spotlight. There are long stretches of synths surging around a continuous swirl of pecked-out single notes. There's a great number of tones used as well, ranging from the mechanical to the colorful.
Though we'll have to wait to see how the second part of Unison complements what we already have, this first taste stands strong on its own. With layers of sound to dig into Unison offers plenty of reasons to come back for more beyond the catchy melodies. Though it moves quickly it invites exploration and rewards attentive listeners.For fans of Simian Mobile Disco and Out Hud.
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