Album: Gran Riserva
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While every style of music has its fair share of artists who are far from being talented enough to perform well, there is perhaps no other genre where there are more "substitute teachers" than that of electronic music. From techno and house to trip-hop and ambient, due to the fact that one can largely perform the style with little more than a computer or sampling machine, the electronic genres as a whole are littered with sub-par acts that often make it a daunting task to find the quality artists within. Yet, if one is willing to brave these garbage filled waters, there are countless musical gems to be found in every smaller sub-genre of the overall style of electronic music. Though a majority of the finest performers of the more moody, deep groove based ambient and down-tempo artists work on their own, one cannot overlook the innovative and fantastic sonic creations made by the Austrian duo known as dZihan & Kamien. Pronounced "jay-han and kammy-en," the duo have release a trio of brilliant studio recordings, as well as live and remix albums over the past decade, and their albums are filled with some of the most unique takes on the ambient style of electronic music. On their second studio release, 2002's Gran Riserva, the pair brought in unknown vocalist-extraordinaire Madita, and together they created one of the most sonically blissful songs ever recorded, "Drophere."
As is the case in nearly any genre of music, creating quieter, more delicate soundscapes is far more challenging within the electronic music scene as opposed to a more musically aggressive and complex sound. The danger of "overdoing" a song can completely ruin the mood, or if the wrong sound is used, it can break the trance or groove of the song. Yet throughout all of Gran Riserva, dZihan & Kamien excel in creating fantastically dreamy musical textures, and "Drophere" is no exception. The opening loop, which serves as the base for the entire song is as dreamy and light as one will find, yet the programmed drums and subtle synth lines keep the song from lulling the listener to sleep. Finding this "middle ground" is the hurdle over which a majority of artists stumble, yet the fact that dZihan & Kamien navigate it so perfectly, alongside the more jazz-based, uptempo grooves found on the rest of the album, serves as a testament to their unquestionable talent within the electronic genre. The smooth, equally spacey bassline is truly infectious, and the overall sound that one finds on "Drophere" is one of the most amazingly sleek, yet subtle sonic creations that has ever emerged from any electronic artist. The way in which the music moves through and around the vocal work is absolutely the key to the songs' intrigue, as dZihan & Kamien managed to find the perfect vocalist for their delicate creation in the form of the then-unknown Madita.
Also hailing from Vienna, Austria, before her work on "Drophere," Madtia had no "official" recordings of any type to her name. It is truly stunning to consider that for her first "formal" musical effort, she was able to produce the stunning results that are found on this song. Her voice, which finds perfect pairing with the subtly soaring musical texture, is without question one of the most beautiful of her generation. Able to easily slide her ethereal voice from soft, delicate touches to soaring, majestic melodies, Madita brings a truly stunning amount of emotion and soul to the vocals throughout the entire song. Lyrically, the song is as beautifully subtle as the music and vocals, and it is this consistency in feel and tone that makes "Drophere" so mesmerizing. In what seems to be a scorned lovers' lament, Madita sings of a relationship that seemed to be "stuck in neutral" for quite some time. Aside from singing that she "...carried my love for a long time," Madita lends a profoundly brilliant thought when she almost dejectedly sings, "...one day, someday, means no faith..." Her performance is absolutely sensational, and her floating, and subtly powerful voice presented on "Drophere" led to her gaining a solo recording contract under which she has released a trio of records.
Looping drumbeats and adding moody keyboard progressions is truly something that "any geek with a computer" can do these days, and it has caused a massive influx of sub-par electronic music across the globe. Due to the ease of creating this type of music, there are easily more "wannabe's" than there are truly talented artists, yet this over-abundance of "posers" has turned many people off to electronic music in general, as most do not want to wade through the sea of garbage to find the true talent with the genre. As is almost always the case, such a quest yields results that are well worth the effort, and among them is the wonderfully unique Gran Riserva record from dZihan & Kamien. The entire album presents sounds and styles that are far beyond that of "normal" jazz-based electronic music, and they show off their true diversity when they slow things down with the moody, yet absolutely gorgeous, "Drophere." Though one can make the case that the sound and mood that is found on "Drophere" had already been perfected by Zero7 and Sia Furler, one cannot deny the fact that the "down-tempo music under a stunning female vocal" formula is equally as stunning. Performing in a manner which is clearly well beyond her years and experience, Madita's vocals are as breathtaking as one will find anywhere, and from the music to the singing to the lyrics, "Drophere" serves as proof that often times, the subtle approach can lead to the most extraordinary and unique musical creations. Truth be told, though it never received much attention, there are few better "space out" songs, those songs that are instantly relaxing, then one will find within the blissful beauty of dZihan & Kamien's song, "Drophere."