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Posted on December 19th, 2012 (12:48 pm) by Matt Essert

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “crystal aquarium?” Possibly something along the lines of voyeuristic opulence? And what comes to mind when you think of voyeuristic opulence? Possibly the city of Miami? So then wouldn’t it follow that Miami is kind of a crystal aquarium with its unpredictably beautiful and tropical opulence serving as a background for one of the country’s most vibrant and multi-cultural cities? So then isn’t it perhaps fitting that the Miami producer Jonathan Abramson, who records music as Between You And Me, released an EP called Crystal Aquarium which so perfectly captures this strange feeling of aquatic beauty and chaos, coated with a certain feeling of partying and overindulgence sometimes associated with his hometown? Well, that’s a lot of questions and not that many questions, so let’s slow down for a minute.

Crystal Aquarium, self-released back in October, is the most recent official offering from this Miami-based electronic producer. Through just a short EP, Between You And Me has already been able to convey his general artistic aesthetic and listeners can quickly get a sense of what BYAM is all about—namely, waves of swerving and fluid synthesizers crashing over each other, anchored by fairly heavy bass lines and generally straightforward beats (some of which are certainly fresher than others). All four of the tracks follow roughly the same schematic: start with a simple synthesizer idea, slowly add on other lines and layers, then eventually drop on a (hopefully) fat beat and several more synthesized layers. On such a short EP (four tracks clocking in at roughly 15 minutes), the effect is relatively innocuous, but on anything much longer, the repetition of this schematic could easily have been boring and grating over time. But, BYAM still has time to figure out how to stretch this style out into enough to fill up an entire LP.

As I think I’ve quite clearly alluded to, the music of Crystal Aquarium sounds very much like its EP’s name: aquatic, fluid tracks highlighted by electronic synths washing over themselves in sometimes frantically busy combinations. Like any busy aquarium, the fish (or musical lines) are sometimes swimming in a dizzying disarray, and are, at other times, beautifully chaotic, synching up at just the right times to deliver astonishing snippets of vivid brilliance. About halfway through a song like “Jellies” is a prime example of the former of these two—a meandering synth line is trampled by shooting lines of intergalactic noise, almost fighting to make its point. On the other hand, things sync up fairly well on the EP’s opener “Feast,” which, according to an article BYAM wrote about his music, was in some ways a catalyst to the entire EP and also acts as a solid roadmap for what listeners can expect for the rest of the album.

Although Crystal Aquarium might not be the most creative EP I’ve ever heard, or the most balanced one at that, Between You And Me has certainly delivered something interesting and intriguing. Even with just a 15 minute taste of what BYAM is bringing to the table, you can already learn quite a bit about this producer’s aesthetic and direction. But the question does remain as to where BYAM will be able to go next. Crystal Aquarium has already demonstrated a lot of BYAM’s musical ideas and abilities, so now we just need to hope that he has enough other ideas to keep this musical exploration going.

Track Listing:
1. Feast
2. Lizzarddyy
3. Atlantis
4. Jellies

Between You And Me, Crystal Aquarium, Miami, Electronic, Feast, Music,
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

66 / 100
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