Posted on May 19th, 2014 (8:00 am) by Jake Cappuccino

Alex Smoke’s newest EP, RS1043, has great beats, but not much else. Smoke focuses the songs around those beats to significant benefit, but sometimes his sampling overcompensates for the beats. Even so, the samples usually work even if it's not perfect. Overall, the RS1043 EP could have been much worse if Smoke did not have such fast beats and interesting, if not always well utilized, samples.

“GreenMan,” opens the record with a strong beat, and some creeping, slowly escalating synth work. A well suited but curt, high-pitched vocal sample rides uncomfortably over the beat. A barely audible, low-pitched, modulated vocal sample contrasts the loud, horn-like sample, but Smoke mostly lets the strong beat take center stage. About halfway through, a section full of siren-like, bleeping samples with flutes and both vocal samples take over the center stage only for Smoke to once again phase out the samples and let the beat win. It is not amazing, but “GreenMan” is a satisfying dance track in its own way.

The second track, “LSD,” is the best track on the EP. In the same pattern as some of the other tracks, Smoke lets the beat drive the song. Fortunately, some of the productive excesses of the other tracks are fully restrained here. That is not to say that the sampling of the other tracks is bad necessarily, but only that Smoke finds the best balance between beat and samples here. Furthermore, Smoke’s escalation of samples from less obvious to the more intrusive feels natural if even a little drawn out. That is, the samples from the beginning set the stage for those that follow so they do not sound ridiculous. Smoke approaches ridiculousness in the last two minutes, but only because his acid trip, “LSD,” has reached its climax and conclusion.

“Tommy Knockers,” is a darker and more synth and beat driven track than the rest. The first few seconds of the song are so deliciously hard and focused. Thankfully, they are the solid foundation of the song. The rest of the song consists of mixes on top of this foundation. Some mixes and samples sound better than others, but they all complement the beat and, for the most part, allow it dominance. Though Smoke’s reliance on this beat pattern makes the track a bit repetitive, “Tommy Knockers” benefits overall.

The record certainly has some positive things going for it. The beats operate with purpose and drive even if the samples do not always support them properly. Smoke has great sounds even if bad sounds cancel them out sometimes. In summary, RS1043 shows that Smoke can produce some fine dance beats even if he is still working on making some fine electronic music.

Track List:

  1. GreenMan
  2. LSD
  3. Tommy Knockers
  4. Oni
Alex Smoke - RS1043 EP
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

62 / 100
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