This Kind of Love
This Kind of Love is available at:
15th November, 2016
Electronic; Dance; EDM; House
IT is not often I get to review music that has its heart in…
House and Dance avenues. Most of my reviews (with some exceptions) revolve around artists who make sounds for the mainstream – aiming to get their music featured on this country’s most popular stations. That might be an over-simplification; it is just nice to focus on an artist who is making his first moves; creating songs destined for (the nation’s) clubs and dancefloors – someone who brings together elements of modern Dance/House with old-skool R&B/Hip-Hop flavours. The dominion and confidence he gives the music (more on that later) is impressive from someone this young. Before I get to my featured artist, it is worth at the realities/construction of music today; how producers/studio owners are helping young artists – the evolving and changing face of Dance/House music. Those who do not make music – consumers and the public in general – often scoff at the complaints of musicians. Disbelieving how hard it is and the sheer effort required to make a song. I think we assume musicians have an endless flow of cash and resources: simply rock up into a studio and slam the money down; a few hours later: their latest smash is born. The reality and truth is a lot more detailed, harsh and eye-opening. One of the reasons so many musicians call time, or are overcome with doubts and anxieties, is the sheer effort and cost required to record music. Those who have passion and determination will plug regardless: finding ways to fulfil their dreams and fund their music. More and more people are both embracing technology and shunning it – finding a balance to ensure their creations are cost-effective and obtainable. In previous reviews, I have lauded D.I.Y. artists who produce music via iPads (other tablets are available!) and other such forms of technology. Purists might call it ‘cheating’ (forsaking real instruments) but technology is making music more accessible and affordable. Whether seeking a true beat; looking for compositional inspiration: modern technology is a very useful asset for new musicians. I am always fascinated dissecting music and learning how songs are created: de-compartmentalising its organism and rebuilding it, piece-by-piece. Knowing Next State’s creator, and how he coalesces and builds his music, it is a pertinent case study. Whether lyrical or musical: that initial germ of creative arrives; the spark that sets the song in motion. New-born, whether named or as-yet-untitled, the wheels start rolling. Getting the composition built, whatever genre you play in, tablets and laptops are an invaluable tool for sound effects and instruments; helping build an aural collage and offering the songwriter near-limitless possibilities and options. Whether using technology or keeping it pure: the artist can tinker and modify the score as they go along. Before long, the lyrics start to flow. It might start as a concept (a passionate love song or a hard-hitting put-down; whatever is in mind) and gets bigger and more life-like – eventually fusing with the composition. After that, the vocal is built on top: thus, a song is born.
It might seem like an axiomatic description: the sheer effort and reality of producing each layer of a song can be arduous and challenging. Next State is someone to watch very closely. Whether recording a sound effect for a track, often involving traditional, lo-fi forms of resonance; he is a musician that is always working and pushing himself; ensuring his music is the best it can be. I have followed his career and gained a closer, more direct insight into the songwriting process – something that has helped and educated me as a reviewer. The sheer dedication and talent required to make a song – some might (foolhardily) think basic and elemental – is astonishing. Before I carry on this point, and, invariably, raise a fresh one, let me introduce Next State to you:
“DJ, Producer and Artist originally from East Sussex now living and working in the Guildford area. Currently studying Electronic Music Production and building on my music career.
Inspirations for my music come from my time living abroad within the Spanish Islands and gaining my love for House music in Ibiza”.
On paper, it may seem like Next State has been living the dream. The envy of many: he has lived in Spain and ensconced himself in the club culture and 18-30 lifestyle; mingling with contemporaries and basking in the clement, sun-soaked atmosphere. Having studied at the Academy of Contemporary Music – after moving from East Sussex – he has put his all into the pursuit of music and songwriting. Someone who is deeply passionate about Electronic/House music, Next State is studying to gain a better insight the genres. Out of this drive and study comes new music in the form of This Kind of Love. Although he is in the infancy – laying down his first tracks; getting a feel for the market – his experience and intuition are making impressions. This Kind of Love is a song that will take Next State to the masses: destined to collect radio-play and focus; translate to the club floors and busy bars. A utilitarian, across-the-borders song, it is representative of the modern-day Dance/House artist. Before getting to Next State’s latest track, having a look at the back catalogue, too, I wanted to touch on House and Dance: how it has changed and developed through the years.
Being born in the ’80s – I won’t reveal the year; lest I reveal my true fuddy-duddy-ness – I grew up listening to the forerunners of the ‘90s Dance scene. When I was hitting school; Soul II Soul’s peerless Club Classics Vol. One was released (in 1988). At a time American Urban bands were cloning predictable sources: Soul II Soul provided a creative, cross-genre alternative. Blending Soul, African influences and Hip-Hop together: the likes of Chic can be heard in the album. Backed by Caron Wheeler’s expressive, soulful voice: tracks like Keep on Movin’ and Back to Life (However Do You Want Me) – featured on the re-release rather than the original – brought British Dance to the forefront. In Europe, early-‘90s acts like Deee-Lite made their mark. 1990’s World Clique remains one of the most kaleidoscopic, fun and influential albums of that period. Even from the late-‘80s/early-‘90s, Europe was not only leading Dance/House direction – they were fusing styles and vocalists to create a rich and multi-cultural sound. Next State is an ancestor of the earliest incarnations: the music (of Next State) nods to Hip-Hop/House of the ‘80s/’90s; evokes shades of those masters. As the ‘90s swung into view, Dance music hit its zenith – a Parnassus that has yet to be bested. Spin-Gods Fatboy Slim came into music with a bang. The Big-Beats majesty of You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby boasted turns, imagination and huge beats – catchy bangers and modern anthems. Rivalling the best of the genre, The Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole was a like-minded, seminal album, Big Beats-Dance-House crossovers were becoming more popularised and defined – without becoming gentrified and distilled. In the swirl of 1990s productivity, when music hit is peak, The Prodigy offered a sweatier, sharper and more acid-laced (psychotropic and dark) form of music. Music for the Jilted Generation, the band’s 1994 masterpiece, slammed hard and heavier. Helmed by super-producer Liam Howlett, the L.P. was a terrorist-bomb of Rave/Acid-House attack. Break-Beat magic and viper-bite slams (songs that rattled around the head for weeks). All of this D.N.A. and heritage can be heard in Next State’s lineage – music that would evolve into the late-‘90s/today.
One-off/lesser-heard purveyors Darude (and their epic hit, Sandstorm), Spiller (Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) and Kinobe (Slip into Something More Comfortable) – in very different ways – showed the flexibility and malleability of House/Dance music. ATB (9 PM- Till I Come especially), Groove Armada and Orbital (among others) made their mark. Throw it ahead to today: acts like Flume, Disclosure; Sigala and Rudimental have updated and enhanced the genres; giving the music juvenile abandon with plenty of focus and nuance. Whilst it lacks the across-the-generations genius and timelessness: it is more urgent and edgy- aimed at a generation who demand (club music) with consumable ease and instantaneousness. Next State is an act who have grown up listening and House and Dance; how it started and progressed; utilising other genres- how progressive and diverse the genres are becoming. He is someone who dips into Hip-Hop/R&B – the smoothness and sensuality of the later; the raw edges of the former – transforming into something multi-layered, uplifting and intelligent. Given the way House, Dance and Deep-House have changed, I am surprised there is such focus, consistency and quality among its makers. Next State has plenty more coming and will have one eye on the clubs of Ibiza; but he is not rushing – making sure the music he puts out is of the highest order.
In order to get an assessment of Next State’s development; it is pertinent investigating the chronology- seeing how the new music (For You) stacks up against older recordings. A year ago; Next State released his first couple of singles. Collaborating with Alec Mugnaini, You Make Me has desire and passion on its sleeve: sentiments and intentions that leave little room for imagination. Right from the offset you get cutting vocals: snippety and fragmented to create a nervy, juddering energy and pulsating percussion. The vocal refrain hovers and echoes: like a thought that keeps nagging the mind; an obsession that gets into the brain and will not desist. Befitting of the song’s subject matter: that chorus/coda prods; hunts and questions; seeks a sense of closure (if that is even a possibility in any situation) and satisfaction. The purging, curious electronic core – when fused with the hissing percussion – soon opens up and kicks up a stage. When the piano comes in; one gets the first taste of the classical-contemporary seduction. A proprietary blend that seems to take your mind to the club floors of the ‘90s – I was instantly transported to a time when Black Box ruled the scene. That evocative piano line is replaced with a rambunctious and swaggering electronic shout: it lifts the track up and brings the composition to the ceiling. The chorus is instant and effective.
It is kept simple to ensure it can be easily extrapolated by the club masses. A song that is comfortable in the local nightclubs and beach-side tavernas – able to unite the late-night revellers and sunshine-seeking sea-dwellers. The insightful music listener detects so many details, colours and emotions. Next State expended a lot of time (clearly) making sure the composition is not too one-minded and basic – yet never too cluttered and busy to speak to everyone. Upon first listen, You Make Me has anthemic stature and gets the body moving. Keeping the vocal simple (if heady); it is a hugely effective and galvanising song. Sophisticated, luminous pianos have romantic tenderness; juxtaposed against the raw and sweaty foreground, it is a song that is deeper and more complex than one would imagine. It is the dichotomies, contradictions and imbalances that make the song a triumph: an accomplished and peremptory release from someone making their first moves into music.
My Love solidifies Next State’s inimitable concoction of classic Dance/House with of-the-minute effects. Once more, and perhaps a subconscious nod, there are elements of Ride on Time – Black Box’s peerless club filler. Backed by air raid siren swirl and a distinct tightness: anxiety and accelerating heartbeats rule the early stages. That close-to-total-explosion suffocation demure, briefly before pummeling forward – a noble charge that is impervious to sanity and discipline. The need for satisfaction – giving into temptation – is palpable and undeniable. Another huge, effective chorus: a hallmark of Next State’s first two singles means it is another for-the-masses banger. It appears, as the song’s heroine lets her voice rise, there’s imbalance and injustices in love; the need for détente and resolution. The heart is going through the game; it needs to escape: obliqueness and mystery sitswith (one first imagines) simple confession. Bringing ‘80s/’90s House alongside 2010s Deep-House/Trance: R&B-cum-Soul sprinklings give My Love a rich flavor and sumptuous bouquet. Staunch, imperious electronics do not stifle the vocals. It is a perfect canvas to allow the lyrics to spring to life; paint wonderful, big-as-life pictures. Keeping the beat intense and focused: the vocal’s fluidity and lustrousness beings the instrumentation strands together; giving My Love fresh nuance and depth. Familiar, critically-approved lyrical themes – romance and desire are staples that have made music what it is – make My Love’s distinct personality and sound ubiquitous and impossible to dislike. There is no insouciance or disregard: just passion, urgency and spine-tingling moments a-plenty.
Over the first two singles, when you link it to This Kind of Love, you can see consistency in addition to progression. Exceptional producing and values mean the songs burst and explode with life. They are never too intense or lacking focus: a perfect balance that makes every note and line essential and addictive. This Kind of Love is (in my view) Next State’s finest release. A song that builds from the first singles – and that exceptional gauntlet laid down – and ups the confidence and quality to new highs. Given how indelible and thrilling the songs are; there is a lot of control, focus and attention to detail; heuristic guidance and poise. You Make Me, My Love and This Kind of Love can be seen as a trilogy, in essence. The songs’ titles are economical: they let you know exactly what the song contains; what its mission statement is. You Make Me and My Love, when sitting together, look at impassioned pleas and inner turmoil; a blend of emotions that (in lesser hands) would be clumsy and pedestrian. Next State’s expertise and talents make each song sound exceptional. Given the rise and steps forward – each new song showcasing an artist really hitting its stride – it all bodes well for the future. Three singles are under the belt: they would make a wonderful; winter-ready E.P. Whether Next State has plans for a quick release, or is thinking about an E.P. further down the tracks, he has three stunning songs at his disposal. This Kind of Love is his latest, and most astonishing, release to date.
Knowing Next State’s previous work, and having expectations already cemented, I was pleasantly subverted and surprised. The initial seconds of the track find the music come in hard and passionate. Fuzzed, vibrating electronic pulses give the song vintage charm but keep it in the present. I have opinioned Next State tying ‘90s Dance classics with current energy – that is all firm and present within the first few seconds. Never too hard and aggressive; never slight and generic – just the right mixture to get the voice primed and the body involved. The female vocalist – not sure who performs on the track – has a perfect voice to back the composition. Again, you get embers of bygone club classics: a song that is rooted in 2016 but harks back to the finer days of Dance and Trance. There is a romanticism and subtlety but plenty of power coming through in the voice. Rather than gravitate to the crotch and loins: there more tenderness; imbued with fire and panache. The power vocal mandates the sweetheart give her his love. I am not sure what has propelled this demand to the fore – perhaps a general hunger or inattentive lover. One imagines a sweaty, enraptured couple working on the dancefloor; powerless and empowered by rare love. The song’s title implies something singular and special: an unbroken love that is causing all manner of trembling and lust. The heroine rides the electronic wave with aplomb: navigating its complexities and style with a performance that blends class with an unfettered desire for satisfaction. This romance is heating and inflamed. You get a real sense of physicality and directness with the composition and vocal. In the back, the temperature rises and more emotions come into play. Next State keeps things energised and exciting but weaves some complex shades and strands into the song. Nuance and depth linger within a raw coda – one that supports a beautiful and sweeping vocal. Most vocal collaborators that work on songs like this are either too overpowering or samey. Here, you get a range of different colours and possibilities. Such an interesting and wide-ranging voice that has the potential to work across other genres and with other artists.
As the song progresses, the rhythm kicks up and you feel something pressing working in the undergrowth. Vocally, there is the repetition of the song’s title. It seems like this kind of love – both unique and relatable – doesn’t come for free. Maybe the guy has to work for things and not just assume it will come to him. Showing determination, resolve and dignity: the heroine keeps her mindset and will not surrender easily. In the opening lines, there was that need (for the man) to succumb and give in to the passion – the opinion and motivation might have changed. Whilst it is important this love keeps burning: it cannot be achieved cheaply and is not something that is short-term. The girl wants this thing to last – despite the allure and electricity in the voice – and wants respect paid. Before you get too engrossed in the track: the composition ramps right up before unveiling its full spectrum of colours and ideas. Like a spring uncoiled: you witness explosion, dance and hypnotic sway. It is hard to define and decompose the sounds and possibilities of that moment – something very primal, exciting and pure. Sometimes the vocal does lose a little decipherability – a few of the lyrics get weighed under the composition – and might have favoured being placed higher in the mix. It is hard balancing the two elements and ensuring both get a proper airing. I find, if the the vocal were a little higher and clear it would not distill the composition but add to the emotion and energy. That said, and by having the voice placed where it is, you get a sense of desperation and hurt – a voice that is fighting to be heard and determined to make it prescience know. Whether a deliberate decision by Next State; it works well and you are always gripped by the words and the song’s progression. Like a lot of memorable Dance songs: This Kind of Love is built around simplicity and repetition. Whilst the composition has detail and the vocal multi-layered – the words are repeated and ensure they burrow into the brain. It is the simplicity of the directive – wanting love and succumbing to the moment – that drives the song and will resonate with people. Not just reserved to 18-30 club-goers or acolytes of the genres – a mandate that will cross boundaries and strike a chord with many.
The composition gets sturdier and edgier; the electronics sharpen and plink; the voice starts to rise and float in the atmosphere. There is a funkiness that comes into This Kind of Love. As the chorus rises and you feel yourself enveloped in the song’s heat and lust – you pay attention and notice all the little details unfolding. If the lyrics are pragmatic, dogmatic and forthright: the vocal twists and mutates the words; providing so much atmosphere, hope and desire. Captivating as the vocals are; you are always hooked into the composition and what is happening there. Some jumpy, funky hops sit with fizzing, Molotov electronics and groove-laden, sweet-leaf undercurrent. The compositional representation of love and sexuality – Next State has created a song that fuses clear passion with something more complicated and deep. The song could easily have ranked alongside the prices of the 1990s: those classics that got the floors jumping and remain classics to this day. What you do notice – between the ‘90s gems and This Kind of Love – is modern production and newer technology. Never polished or too precise – you can hear the accomplished producing and the technological elements that make the song as epic and layered as it is. Towards the final stages, that chorus keeps coming back while the background grows more heady and immersive.
Blending the warp and precise electronic elements of songs like Don’t Give Me Your Life (Alex Party Classic Mix) by Alex Party; the shady and city-lights rush of the current titans of House/Dance – one gets a generational commingling that works wonderfully. Kudos has to go to the vocal performance – I shall find the name out! – and what it delivers. Not just a female voice to score a track (as you get with many tracks) it adds so much and almost steals the show. It is impossible to refute the sensuality, power and desire that drips from every syllable – a veritable tongue-tying voice that ensures the words explode with desire and heat. Next State, as opposed to his earlier cuts, has really grown into his own skin and is beholden to nobody. Perhaps earlier songs had some influences on sleeves but here he has really blossomed out of his chrysalis. Perhaps it is his studies and musical education; working with the likes of Mania – or something else – but it is clear Next State is making some impressive steps. This Kind of Love is not just a fantastic track but surely gives its creator the confidence to get back into the studio. I hear the song as an opening track: maybe a three/four-track E.P. that explores different sides and stories of love in the modern age? Love and relations are key themes for Next State but he gives (the tired and over-represented) subject fresh insight and distinct personality. Let’s hope he can exploit this in a forthcoming release. I, for one, would love to see Next State more from the young talent.
I have waxed lyrical about Next State and This Kind of Love. The first real and personal statement from the Surrey-based artist – it is one that is ready-made for radio but universal enough to introduce new listeners to the genres (Deep-House and House). That is the mark of a great song/artist: someone who does not make music for a distinct sect; casts their horizons to a larger audience – involves everyone and brings people together. This Kind of Love is a glimpse into Next State’s future machinations. There are likely to be more songs but Next State has worked hard and overcome a lot. Despite some setbacks and creative delays: he is very much here now and establishing himself as one of the freshest and most distinct producers/writers around. Adding new zest, energy and emotion to House/Electronic genres – he is someone you need to keep your eyes on. Here is an artist on the cusp of his potential: growing, learning and searching as he makes his creations known. I know there are plans for an E.P. down the line. Next State wants to release singles first: gauge the mood and prepare his next move. He enters the market at a perfect time. There is a lot of fatigue and shoulder-shrugging towards the mainstream. Fairly recently, artists like Jake Bugg – a self-proclaimed originator and generational voice – produced a rather lacklustre album. Negating co-writers/producers: his self-tuned album, On My One, was met with derisory feedback and below-par reviews. Bugg claims anyone can get a number one album these days: such is the nature of modern music. A few thousand sales can get an album to the top spot. Among the jewels of 2016 – I have mentioned them enough not to reintroduce them – there are plenty of rough diamonds and dodgy forgeries. Away from the stolid and dull sounds of Pop – Adele and Coldplay’s current albums were hardly the most fascinating – listeners are going elsewhere; exploring new genres – something harder, bigger and bolder. I mentioned the likes of Sigala and Disclosure: there are plenty of club-filling, arms-in-the-air merchants- providing an interesting alternative to the drudge of Pop.
As Next State proves, with This Kind of Love a perfect example, technology and old-fashioned inspiration can come together in new, beautiful ways. Even those who do not know/love the genres will be able to bond and connect with the music. It brings optimism, fever and electricity: anyone in a bad mood can be lifted; imbued with such energy, drama and depth. It is not a straight-ahead, bare-knuckled House track- from artists that lack real quality and egalitarian consideration – but something deep, detailed and emotional. You can hear and feel the conviction coming through – that will resound with crowds and get inside the veins; ensure bodies and jumping and voices are singing. On that subject, where Next State will take the music, there exists a real opportunity. His knowledge of club demands – enforced by his time in Spain – together with his music education and expertise sets him in good stead. Music-making is not the only thing on Next State’s agenda. Right now, and available on Kane 103.7F.M., he is working alongside Mania – bringing their knowledge and passion for Dance/House music together; well worth some investigation and time. I am not sure whether self-promotion is allowed – sneak a bit of Next State in there on the odd occasion – but that D.J. experience will only drive and enforce his creativity and determination. Seeing where he can go – playing established artists who are making waves – gives that surge of inspiration and clarity.
This Kind of Love is a big step from a young artist who shows bags of heart, promise and ability. It is an assured statement from Next State. So much music today lacks the necessary components to linger in the mind: compel the listener and change their views on music. I have been a slight dilettante when it comes to genres (and sub-genres) like Deep-House and R&B – not really pushing beyond my comfort zone; reluctant to dip my toes in the water. Next State has compelled me to dig deep: not only check his music out; look at like-minded peers and what they are producing. He should be ordering business cards and getting photos lined-up; keep busy with radio and look to the future. He is someone who has definite goals; a musician that wants to remain on the scene for a lot long. As musical aftertastes go, This Kind of Love is a pretty heady one. The nights are closing in and the (typically capricious) British weather is anything but pleasant. Anyone want their spirits raised and the blood boiling; the soul invigorated and the smile put on their face? Let me tell you, I know a man…
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