Queens-based songwriting and production collective Datastar prove unquestionably the strength of a group effort when it comes to impressive and refreshingly original creativity.
The four-track release that is Don’t Panic, beginning with the industrially heavy yet spacious and rhythmically hypnotic BlackHeart, is everything the classic techno fan might once have been drawn to, and everything the contemporary, alternative EDM fan has been craving in recent years.
BlackHeart creates an appealing vibe from the offset, utilizing a select few layers and details to build something that actually sounds far more organic and live than the vast majority of electronic music. Then you get the build-up, the evolution – slowly but surely new moments and sections of the soundscape unfold around you. For the whole four minutes this back and forth continues, yet always the crisp and clean hit of that drum contrasts powerfully with the distorted synth riffs that weave in and out of the mix.
Before this though, Nardo creates a totally different mood. Expect a colourful chord progression, a light and tribal rhythm, retro synths and quickly memorable melodies. Then later, the absolute warmth and weight of a well-crafted bass-line. Once again, contrast works its magic – the track is consciously structured to keep you interested, to move from moments of energy to those of calm; a huge calling card for the Datastar sound and approach to music.
Just Like That furthers the retro energy, leaning a little towards Daft Punk with its electronic funk aura. Then there’s the free-flowing, dub-style bass-line, and a few whispers of vocal that reinforce the late-night dance floor vibe. Less alternative now, more beautifully jazz-soaked and uplifting in a vastly accessible, perhaps mainstream-ready manner.
Eclecticism stands tall throughout this four-track collection, ultimately suggestive of an act that can cater to just about any event or setting. At the same time though, as suggested earlier, you definitely get a feel for the way they build their audio journeys, and those details and traits will make all the difference in the long-term.
Finally, the project’s title-track begins in a fully energetic and immersive fashion – lightness and pace intertwine to rain down in a joyful, motivational manner. Then the beat kicks in, and the robotic vocal – listing words and details, planting the seed before ultimately repeating to an addictive degree the central concept; Don’t Panic. As this builds, the soundscape grows from simple to chaotic and beautiful, these synths and moments panning from quiet to loud and washing over you like waves of entrancing energy. Another brilliantly original piece but with just enough elements of familiarity to let it connect on a broader level. A personal favourite, close to impossible to dislike, and a superb way to finish this uniquely expressive and refreshing new project.
Datastar are making music that subtly and skillfully takes hold of you. Their creatively passionate approach meets with a clearly professional and experienced understanding of production and composition. For all of these reasons, this EP is absolutely one worth knowing about.