Review of Caracal and Art in General


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Before I write a review of a new album, I sit down and read a few other reviews to check to see if there was anything I missed.

I did that in preparation to write my thought on Disclosure’s most recent release, Caracal. What I found was several reviews expressing that Caracal is more of the same from the electro-pop bothers, but I spun this record again this week and realized that music critics don’t cut artists any slack.

For the record, I wouldn’t classify myself as a critic, just a musician sharing his humble thoughts.

This record was incredibly well crafted. Disclosure is consistent and leaves no stone unturned in their production. It’s ultra-clean and brutally crisp. The way they produced this record is what they know. It’s what they do best. So why criticize them for not pioneering a completely new sound? Their subdued beats and subtle bass allows for the intensity to build to an intense degree without getting exceedingly loud or obnoxious like dubstep. Another thing I admire is the limited amount of sounds they employ. At any one time I can only identify up to five or six different sounds. And yet, they are able to paint an incredibly intricate soundscape. Who cares if their record sounds similar to the last one? Does that even count as a bad thing? Settle changed pop music forever – and for the better. Bob Dylan released five records before he went electric.

Similar to settle, Disclosure recruits a cast of A-list artists as features on their tunes; among them Sam Smith, Lorde, and Gregory Porter. Sam Smith comes back with the track, Omen, a seemingly somber and equally as groovy sequel to Latch. Lorde’s track Magnets straight swings, man. How Disclosure achieved such a laid-back groove with computers is beyond my knowledge. Gregory Porter’s appearance on this record makes me intensely happy. Porter is a contemporary jazz singer fairly popular on the jazz circuit. For a musician in the jazz world, this is an incredibly huge break for him. The optimist in me would like to think that people would hear the track, research the singer, listen to some of his music, and become an everlasting jazz nerd. A boy can dream. Overall, is seems as though this record was made to be a catalyst of dancing. Nothing is too fast and the average song length is just under five minutes. But nothing ever gets boring, the brothers seem very careful about adding and subtracting textures when needed to catch the ear and keep the crowd interested.

Speaking of catchy, every track has a great thematic melody that has its own hook. Sometimes it sounds like they borrow ideas but, hey, what is art but the synthesis of preexisting ideas? Everybody has their own musical vocabulary.

As for me, it is clear that Disclosure knows what they are doing and do it well. Sounding like yourself is not a crime. The real offense is when you do not.

Devan is a dj with KSSU

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