Saturday, December 12, 2015

Song of the Day #240 - Katy B, Four Tet & Floating Points - Calm Down

There's a secret I feel called joy, when I free myself

This is the first single of the new Katy B album, which I guess is called Honey and is coming out next year. I got into Katy B through this sick Mad Matt chart which is not an atypical way for me to discover music but usually only genres ending in -core. The appeal of the song was mostly in the combination of the hyper-fast "technical" synth line and her smooth, smokey voice, and I was delighted to find that this wasn't a one-song fluke but her overall mission. Her music doesn't make any concessions in its sound... whereas other popstars might tie unorthodox beats or rhythms into familiar structures, Katy doubles down on these progressive elements, building a career out of the spirit of songs like "Toxic" or "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". I mean I don't actually know enough about this genre to speak super knowledgeably about this, but that's the sort of personal legacy that it operates through, for me.

Likewise I don't know if I read this somewhere or just dreamed it or something, but I think I heard something about how you can attribute a lot of the differences between American and British club-pop to the fact that British clubs are on average much smaller than American clubs. Of course, you want to write music which clearly defines the beat, so people can dance along with it. And thus in British club-pop, the beat is shown mostly through stuff like the clap, and stuff like the kick and the synths and stuff can happen more off-beat, because the higher register is more discernible in a smaller space? Whereas in American clubs, because of the size of the space, they have to put all the beat-marking elements way in the low register, because they carry much better? Does that make sense? Did I actually read that somewhere? Well, whatever. The point is, when I listen to Katy B, I think "hmmm yes this is some very British pop" and that feels fun.

Here she's pushed it even further, teaming up with Floating Points and Four Tet, two very big names We quickly set up a hypnotic "churning" sort of sound, one that nicely compliments the violins mixed in later. There's the sort of "vacuum" sound that I've praised on many tracks, the all-star example still being Yeah Yeah by Bodyrox, but here it's sort of "wetter"... someday maybe I will actually learn what I am talking about, what a day that will be. Basically I think this sort of sound is hella cool, and I feel maybe it was designed to function in a smaller, more insulated space, where it wouldn't be muddied.

On top of this, we have the vocals of Katy B herself, which are hella dynamic and explore a wide register and tone with the utmost confidence. I love the way the violins "extend" her vocal line into a more "chaotic" space, it feels like she has "destroyed" them in some way. The lyrics are some typical "lose yourself in the club" type stuff but it's pretty evocative, and you believe her when she sets up this schema of love/dance/freedom. Overall it's just absolutely masterful work from three people who all deserve fame and wealth and happiness.

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