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Posted on January 17th, 2012 (5:57 pm) by Kevin Reyes

In his latest EP, Great White Shark, American-born Danish producer Keith Canisius blends elements of chillwave, downtempo/ambient, and shoegaze to create hazy, dream-inducing pop music. As stated on his Facebook and Bandcamp pages, the Copenhagen-based musician relies on “alternative production techniques” in crafting and arranging the layers upon layers of audio that make up his songs. During live performances, Canisius is backed by The Holy Dreamers to realize his ultra-dense productions onstage.

Combining acoustic and electric guitars, a multitude of synthesizers, retro-vintage drum sounds, and swirling vocals, Keith Canisius’ style is highly influenced by the early ‘90s dream-pop music from the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins, and is very much akin to the music of Canisius’ Swedish neighbors Korallreven and of fellow Danes from alternative rock group Mew. Although the songs of Great White Shark lean more towards light and organic than his previous material – Canisius first made his way into the music scene back in 2006 as one half of a short-lived project, Rumskib – they do not stray too far from their roots, the only difference being that they possess more pop sensibility.

Great White Shark begins with a deceptive percussion intro. The low, deep sound of the drums leads listeners into thinking the EP is heading straight for the shark’s den without spending some time to first take in the scenery and to feel the ocean breeze. However, once Canisius’ whispy falsetto comes in, the listener soon learns that he actually plans to be much more cautious this time around. As indicated by the song’s lyrics, “In 1916, I lost my friend to a great white shark.”

With its “new-wavy” drum machine hits, synthesizer swells, and high-pitched guitar strums that sound almost like someone taking a deep breath before submerging completely underwater, the EP’s second track, “LSD,” is an upbeat, dreamy number colored with a 1980s tinge. “Yeah I oh” is the shortest and most stripped-down song of Great White Shark, consisting of jangling guitar riffs, a funky drum beat, and a playful vocable refrain. Canisius briefly takes listeners back to his past with the overdriven guitars and scintillating synth melodies of “Meltdown.” The snail-like rhythm of closing track, “Beach On My Mind,” is reminiscent of the constant ebb and flow of the tides, featuring woozy guitar leads and hypnotic, reverse-echo vocals.

With a total of only 5 songs and clocking in at roughly 17 minutes, Great White Shark is a very quick listen. Although the lackadaisical nature of the EP is not unexpected given its aquatic theme, one downside to this is the lack of direction and dynamic within the songs. Unfortunately, the complex instrumentation, potpourri of tones, and catchy melodies of Great White Shark are not enough to make up for the EP’s unsuccessful (though commendable) attempts at building momentum during and between tracks. Songs abruptly end at points where listeners are expecting them to take an interesting turn. However, extending the songs any further would only make them become more repetitive, as opposed to adding more substance.

Nevertheless, Great White Shark still has its redeeming qualities and is enough to delight listeners of chillwave, downtempo, and shoegaze alike – even if only for 17 minutes.

Track List
1. The Great White Shark
2. LSD
3. Yeah I oh
4. Meltdown
5. Beach On My Mind

Keith Canisius, Great White Shark, Copenhagen, Denmark, chillwave, dream pop
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

61 / 100
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