Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Romay - Playing With Sound Review

I have never managed to win a game of chess. Remembering what piece moves where is the easy part, it is knowing how to use the different abilities of each piece to win the game. Like chess, music tracks are made up different pieces which have to work together. Romay is a producer who knows this and the cover from his album Playing With Sound is witty, clever and unique. Although it did leave me wondering how Sound would actually move the chess pieces and who would have won if a chess match between the two was possible.

The music on the album switches between East and West then mashes them together. Each track contains a bit of each, even if it is only a subtle hint of an Indian vocal. There is a good mix of tracks with vocals and tracks that are purely instrumental. The beats and basslines range from the incredibly dark and grimy to those that are light and sunny. Each track is different to the last yet they are all connected to each other through great production and awesome beats. Romay knows what he is doing and it shows in this album. Every track is incredibly well put together and I didn’t feel the need to skip any due to poor production.

Romay has used original vocals on Playing With Sound rather than Bollywood samples, which makes the tracks sound fresh and is something he should be given credit for. Saahvan is a great song. Indian vocals are set against a drum and bass background and the effect is stunning. Sapna is another Indian vocals English beat song, but the effect is lighter and sweeter and compared the other songs on the album and feels like a chill out track.

Nothing Without You is another song that uses Asian vocals, but this is heavier on the bass. Sajana Tere Bin is hauntingly beautiful. In Realisation, Romay again floats vocals over a strong beat, but these are sung in English. It’s a happy track and a great one to end the album.

Even though I usually prefer tracks with vocals, the instrumental tracks on this album are very good. There is a bit in The Time is Now that reminds me of the theme from the film Goldfinger. Despite this it is a great dark track. Moonshadow and Step To My Toe are two more dark grimy tracks worth listening to.

is my favourite track on the album. It’s an addictive funky sitar track with a slightly grimy edge. Retro yet modern, this is what it would sound like if Ananda Shankar had a studio in Berlin. The sitar is relatively simple, but the mix behind it is complex and the overall effect is unique.

Verdict: Romay mixes beats and genres like a barman mixes cocktails and he has a unique way of drawing the listener into his music. This is a solid album which is well put together and wants to be played again and again. On the cover, Romay might be struggling to play chess with Sound, but after listening to the album it is clear that he won the game.

Read the Sari-Clad Speakers interview with Romay here.

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