I’ve found that I’ve often discovered artists at slightly the wrong time to really get the most out of their work. I got into Car Seat Headrest a month after they came to Cat’s Cradle and it seemed like everyone in The National started releasing solo projects the moment I became a fan. But just this once, the stars aligned. I started DJing during the afterhours block this semester, which means I had to go from an electronic music novice to someone qualified to run a weekly show about it. Rezz was my gateway into a world of thumping bass and hard-hitting kick drums, and I was waiting for this album with a feverish anticipation. Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.
Sounding effortless to me is one of the best things an artist can do, having instantly iconic moments feel like they are just dispensed without a care in the world adds another level to any music. I normally don’t feel this from EDM, with its meticulously crafted structures, but here it feels like this album is good without even trying to be. Rezz is swimming in so much quality production that “Levitate”, a song that spends half of its runtime over a repeated guitar loop that barely rises above the backbeat, still comes together as a quality track with a sneaky bassline that isn’t really a drop but propels the song in a great direction regardless. It’s all uphill from here, “Sacrificial” makes great use of individual bass notes underneath perfectly arranged vocal harmonies, this is probably my favorite track on the album. “Let Me In” starts slow but continues ramping up the pace with the drop becoming more and more urgent.
The release of this album wasn’t just perfect because of when I got into Rezz’s music either. “Spiral” marks somewhat of a transformation of what a Rezz song means. She built her career off a very specific type of fusion of dark techno and dubstep now called “midtempo”, where songs have house and techno elements but are slowed down to 100-110 BPM, really letting the listener hear the technical aspects of the basslines. Her work in this genre is amazing, and we get all of that here, but she opens up the soundscape with more of a focus on the highs, with offbeat notes and clicks making even the bass drops more fleshed out. Some tracks adhere more to her older style, such as “Spun” and the extremely hard-hitting “Chemical Bond”, but this more balanced approach can be felt across the whole album. Her previous albums were also almost entirely lacking in vocals, but “Spiral” has features from singers on more than half its tracks, and they deliver. “Taste of You” features a restrained buildup that lets Dove Cameron inject a compelling edge to the song before exploding into the drop, and Metric’s Emily Haines arguably carries “Paper Walls” with a vulnerability that matches the moody instrumental until a switch is flipped and the kicks start going stratospheric.
Perhaps the best part of the listening experience is that it’s only going to get better the more I listen to the project. As varied and amazing as the deep cuts were, the singles were still the best songs for a variety of reasons, which means that the high points on an album that at time of writing came out under twelve hours ago were songs I’ve been bumping for months. As we draw further from the release day, this line will blur more and I’ll be able to appreciate “Spiral” as a body of work more.
And Rezz, if you’re somehow reading this, please announce a show closer than DC.