Xander Wale, otherwise known as TheDarkhounds, has released his second album of original songs, and the title track from that project is a pretty bold starting point to take on the eclectic and experimental nature of his music.
A Case Of Vanity as a single brings together a manic and multi-layered, slightly retro EDM soundscape, with a distant and effected vocal line that seems to sit on top of the beat in an underground hip hop sort of way. As the track progresses, a certain familiarity develops within the vibrant chaos of the ambiance – the synths and riffs rain down on you as the music pours through. This in itself quickly becomes a key trait of the song – giving it that all-important flicker of recognizability. On top of this is the leading voice, something the artist toys with at the point of production as if it were another instrument – another electronic element to be explored.
The unusual and quite striking nature of the music takes your focus away from the song’s concept at first listen. Elsewhere on the album this is not always the case, song’s like Back Home offer a much more minimalist, almost acoustic backdrop, upon which the leading voice appears very intimately and under quite a vulnerable light. In the case of moments like this, the melody offers the key characteristic, the hook, and the voice is laid a little more bare so that you really feel the emotion and meaning of the song.
Contrast is pretty essential in music, if you want to stand out or maintain and audience’s attention. This album utilises it a fair bit but the artist does so more intently within the walls of the title track. Whenever you feel as if you know how things will go, the soundscape changes entirely – the rhythm reinvents itself, the mood alters, and there’s a distinct sense of structural creative freedom that gives it a bizarrely interesting vibe.
As you explore the rest of the album, that eclecticism and experimentation reaches even greater heights – Train Wreck as an example sees the artist’s voice appear soaked in retro effects and reverb, disguising the curse words and anger in the lyricism a little, and in fact creating an environment that represents the song’s concept in an unexpected way. Right Path is another example of things changing lanes, a classic beat emerges alongside of a notably emotional melody and subject matter.
It seems that the title track form this project is perhaps the loudest or most attention grabbing of the whole collection – a fitting choice to be the single, in that respect. The second and third times you hear the song, the words hit with a little more impact – it strikes initially as being a song about the weekend, the escapism we turn to, but there’s something not quite common about the way it all comes through. The concept implied by the title shines a little more brightly as things move forwards, not just lyrically but due to the musical exploration as well. TheDarkhounds as an artist offers a vast display of ideas and a sense of creativity that is genuinely uninhibited – a rare attribute and one that runs throughout his work.