A Welcome Mix of Styles from the Low End Theory Co-Founder
‘Vivid Green’ is the latest project from Elvin Estela, aka DJ Nobody. Nobody is, amongst other things, the co-founder and resident DJ at the hugely influential LA club night Low End Theory as well as being a sought-after producer, working with the likes of Freestyle Fellowship, Busdriver and Omar Rodríguez-López.
With its lovely cover art of a young girl staring at a forlorn-looking Green Man, the project’s strongest moments sound like the captivating soundtrack to a beautiful fairy-tale. The breath-taking opener ‘Third Charm’ successfully mixes atmospheric synths, big drums and evocative eastern melodies, a combination which makes up much – but not all – of the album’s best moments. A rapid-fire bass tone dominates the tune at regular intervals, heightening the track’s intensity every time it’s deployed. ‘Pentwater’ successfully builds on the opener’s momentum; the tabla samples in its second half are a particularly nice touch. Nobody clearly has the mixing of world percussion and melodies down to a fine art as this blending of cultures and musical styles is, along with Nobody’s technical know-how, one of the project’s strong points. Switching musical styles again whilst maintaining a strong sense of cohesion, the glorious ‘Our Last Dance’ finds a mournful Cedric Bixler-Zavala deep within a choppy sea of analogue fuzz, stuttering rock guitars and pitch-bent siren wails. ‘Rhombus’ evokes images of ballet dancers teetering on tip-toes and Little Red Riding Hood being sized up by the big, bad wolf. Great stuff.
Alas, what undoes some of ‘Vivid Green’s magic is its drift into anonymous instrumentals from hereon in. With such a strong identity being created early on, the straightforward trap-influenced tracks ‘Flat Black’, ‘Ice Plants’ and ‘Rex’ sound out-of-place and generic here. This is even more apparent as ‘Sleeping Alone’, a theatrical sounding track which mixes fragility and menace, sits between ‘Flat Black’ and ‘Ice Plants’. Whilst these two tracks and ‘Rex’ will undoubtedly sound great in the club, here they take away some of the album’s cohesiveness and unique character. ‘Vivid Green’s low-point, the repetitive ‘Spliff!’, is skip-worthy.
The album regains direction and feeling thanks to the pensive pacing and sad strings of ‘In Limbo’. The title track captures the drama of the earlier cuts and – unimaginative hook notwithstanding – ‘Beaches’ ends the project on a high. Nobody’s Bomb Zombies partner Nocando delivers a love-letter atop an engaging beat made all the more memorable by its gorgeous female vocal.
With more ruthless track selection, ‘Vivid Green’ would be a great album. Instead, it’s a good album that should be forgiven for its occasional falters.
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Label: Alpha Pup
- Third Charm
- Our Last Dance
- Flat Black
- Sleeping Alone
- In Limbo
- Vivid Green