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Posted on April 11th, 2012 (7:36 am) by Devan Proctor

An EP is a taste of a band’s potential and talent, and must concisely promote the band’s core sound and persona in order to immediately draw listeners. If these essentials are absent, the EP cannot tell us much about the band or its direction. Paper Tiger (a name shared by seven other groups) has us searching for some sort of originality or purpose in its latest release, Illuminated EP. In an album where so much tonal and rhythmic material occurs, little is happening in the way of progression or advancement – Paper Tiger boasts complicated beats and galactic sound effects without conveying direction or mood. Unlike its luscious predecessor, Worldwide Takeover EP, Illuminated EP becomes lost between its several members and undetermined course, and it is all very confusing.

Hailing from Wolverhampton, UK, several artists have joined Paper Tiger in the hopes of combining their skill and experience. Strangely enough, this particular EP reveals none of Paper Tiger’s supposed range and ”near-unlimited tools,” nor does the record sound of much dubstep or “future hip-hop,” as it suggests. While Illuminated EP is not a completely hapless project, its overarching qualities do not match the image of Paper Tiger’s progressive and multifaceted description. Unfortunately, a large compilation of people and resources can severely miss the mark – stuffing a little EP with all that talent is a great way to forgo organization and direction.

The original tracks focus on confounding rhythms and plenty of cosmic sound effects. The theme of each song hovers between dubstep and house/electronica, as if uncertain of its destination. “Delight Dub” begins with tweaky sounds and uniformed vocals echoes. Much like dubstep, the song begins subtly, progressing when the whompy undercurrent emerges. Unlike dubstep, “Delight Dub” does not come to any sort of apex. This spacey misdirection, paired with the erratically inflected beat, repeats itself until its abrupt end.

Similarly, “Illuminated” consists of busy sounds and an overworked beat. At first, the rhythm covers a standard dub rhythm, until Paper Tiger layers a strange and inconsistent drum kit over the essential inflections. You can’t really dance to it, and maybe that’s why Paper Tiger attempts to liven it up with a techno beat. Despite the added horn samples, despite reverting back to dub rhythm, the efforts of a collective people do not show at all. These songs could certainly entertain us live, but little musicality exists to maintain attention through our own speakers.

After listening to “Modern Dynamics,” the last of the original tracks, listeners find difficulty distinguishing Paper Tiger from any other run-of-the-mill electronic bands. Despite cool digital tones and reverberated goodness, the song is nearly four minutes of monotony. We do not receive a sense of Paper Tiger’s individualism in Illuminated EP, only that its material represents the abilities of a single musician. Paper Tiger's previous EP, Worldwide Takeover, exemplifies much greater musicianship, including catchy trumpets, hungry beats, and an enticing blend of colorful tones. Subtle shifts and gentle arrangement filled Paper Tiger's first release - what exactly happened in this second release?

Two decent remixes stand out in Illuminated EP. “Modern Dynamics (Wisent Quantum Chaos Revision)” spurns a catchy house beat and full sounds. Wisent does an excellent job in composition, as he removes and replaces certain elements throughout to change the song’s mood (for example, he removes parts of the percussion line to revamp the flow). “Illuminated (Blacksmif Re-Lick)” makes the original a true dance mix, and incorporates transitions and a swelling bass. After listening to the remixes, which exemplify purpose and construction, we feel as though the originals lack flow and form. Illuminated EP also features a digital bonus, a vocal cut of “Modern Dynamics.” Simply stated, it involves singing and rapping layered above the original take. Though the singing sounds nice and the rap line matches the instrumental mood, the material competes with each other to be the main attraction. The vocals cannot shine through, and so the piece sounds a bit messy and overwhelming.

Even if one artist produced this creation, the result is mild and utterly basic for the band claiming to be “boundary pushing and crowd-pleasing.” Nothing signature of Paper Tiger exists in this EP, and its sound does not extend beyond modern electronic music. Truthfully, an EP is difficult to judge. Plenty of material and resources exist in Paper Tiger’s future to clean up its excesses and arrange a more purposeful direction, whether that means expressing its supposed versatility, becoming less homogenous, or actually making us want to dance. Hopefully, Illuminated EP merely reveals Paper Tiger’s firm grasp of basic electronic music. As listeners, we need more examples, or even a live set, just to hear what makes Paper Tiger stand apart.

Track List:
1. Delight Dub
2. Illuminated
3. Modern Dynamics
4. Modern Dynamics (Wisent Quantum Chaos Revision)
5. Illuminated (Blacksmif Re-Lick)
6. Modern Dynamics Vocal Cut (Digital Bonus)

Paper Tiger: Illuminated EP
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

47 / 100
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