Edwin de Zwart aka Stereotopics is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who recently released a 19-track debut album entitled Hello. This is one of those few and rare albums that is able to combine (at least what sounds like) electronic and organic elements so efficiently that it feels as if they coming from the same exact place. Not unlike a band like the Notwist who is able to marry these two elements in way that almost feels effortless, Zwart does the same with a vast collection of instruments ranging from guitars, synths, organic drums, piano and more. An excellent example of this is the title track “Hello.” The song utilizes a steady drum beat, wobbly synths that sometimes sound like lasers and the commanding but simple piano part that provides the emotional center of the song. The vocals are extremely sparse and very buried in the mix here. I think the only thing I could really hear was de Zwart saying hello. That being said the song is extremely infectious and gets even better when he starts using vocal sample towards the end.
The album is extremely varied and is very hard to pin down to one specific genre. However, one thing that is certain is that a lot of the songs are exceptional if not always captivating. “Fountains of Fears” has some of the best string work on the album as it combines backwards-sounding guitar loops with intricate string work done on the acoustic. It has a very unique vibe all its own combining some Eastern type sounds the Beatles may have visited with an almost jam band type of feel. Very original to say the least. Then you hear a song like “Overture for Joseph,” which is an extremely slow sparse song that is centered around the piano. I loved the piece and it worked very well to break up the momentum of the album. The percussion heavy “Air Factory” is another winner that felt like motion to me. It moves and feels progressive like something is happening in the air. You also have a song like “Climbing The Hill” which put the drums low in the mix and instead focuses on the lead guitar work while “Beam” contains vocals that are sort of a combination of talking and singing. “Headlights On A Rainy Road” closes the album and is the poppiest song. No talk/singing on this one just singing.
Hello is a great album overall but starts to lose a little bit of steam by the end. Other than that, this album is more than impressive, showcasing one man who not only can play a ridiculous amount of instruments but can also write a number of very good tunes.
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