Review of Metabards EP by Metabards

Metabards, a duo from New York City, just released their new EP; a self-titled effort that's making some waves. Stylistically, Metabards can be described as electronica, trip hop, or even breakbeat.  Whatever it's called, the Metabards infuse their music with a variety of influences, including blues, jazz and funk.

Metabards Metabards EP

The EP's first track, 'Prometheus', is the trophy track, and comes closest to pure trip hop. A bit down-tempo, it contains a funky beat, a strong jazz bassline and bluesy vocals. Tianya supplies the vocals and her voice is tight, sultry and expressive. She sounds a bit like a hybrid of Nina Simone and Sade, although the similarity is elusive. Her phrasing is snug but not constricting, which gives the lyrics room to flow. And her ability to harmonize is superb.

'Paradise Found' begins with an electronica intro, followed by a staccato electro-dance beat. Traditional African chanting can be heard in the background which, surprisingly, succeeds in adding unique stylistic depth to the tune which, along with wonderful harmonies, makes the song an ear-pleasing winner.

The next track is another version of 'Prometheus'.  This alternate version carries the title of 'Prometheus (Krimshok Remix)'.  A multitude of electronica nuances, along with slightly distorted voices, inhabit the remix.  Intentionally, it doesn't have the clarity of the first version, so it feels somewhat cluttered. The first version is more radio-friendly, while the remix is more danceable.

Another remix, called 'Paradise Found (Dopamine Remix)', drops the subdued energy of the African chanting and opts for a straightforward electro-dance melody that, while also eminently danceable, is nowhere as likeable as the first version, and third version 'Paradise Found (Dopamine Dub)' doesn't work with the dub sensibility. The song is shrill and numbingly repetitive.  

Better than average, 'Metabards' offers an aural catalog of what trip hop is all about. That being said, the duo is much more adept at unmixed trip hop than when they venture into the realm of electronica.  Tianya's voice definitely lends itself well to bluesy, jazzy melodies.


Randy Radic

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