Monday, November 15, 2010

There Has To Be More - Radioseed

There Has To Be More

Quince Records.

SCQ Rating: 76%

A good percentage of listeners craving some sunny Scandinavian pop likely missed out on Ecovillage’s wickedly overlooked debut last year, which cluttered boy-band vocals and world-music touchstones into a warped and woozy long-player. In SCQ’s review of Phoenix Asteroid, the lazy term “ear candy” came to encompass the duo’s ability to collage antagonistic genres into something spellbinding and yet, after repeated listens, somewhat trite. Peter Wikstrom’s solo guise as Radioseed seems destined to kick off in the same Ecovillage vein with ‘Magic Friday’, a frolicking commune of stray woodwinds, folky guitar and harmonica, before ‘Raspberry Cream Dream’ raps on the door with a thick and humid dance beat. The swiftness with which Wikstrom’s beats direct There Has To Be More’s dreamy haze doesn’t divorce Radioseed from the Ecovillage umbrella so much as give purpose to what would otherwise sound like a world-music ambient wash.

Those buoyant beats of ‘Raspberry Cream Dream’ shed light on Wikstrom’s affection for late 90s house music which, if I’m not mistaken, puts Wikstrom ahead of electronica’s headstrong obsession with 80s synth-projects. Trendsetter or not, Radioseed’s earnest pop-confections and lyrical sincerity draw some curious comparisons; the bass-heavy beats of ‘Kissed Your Galaxy Goodbye’ call to mind Chris Sheppard’s Much-Music approved compilations whereas the title track digs into more soulful, if no less anthemic, synth-pop which verges on M83’s upbeat fare. From that title track’s midway point, There Has To Be More embraces a more somber tone alongside its tribal-inflected house-beats, with ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ and the eerie ‘Pearly Sister’ both utilizing wordless vocals to instill serene reflections. The solo LP, like Phoenix Asteroid, closes in epic fashion with ‘Miracle Of Triumphant’, a percussion-heavy track that ebbs into gloriously tender ambience before reassembling with a vocal-assisted outro.

Although surrounded by field-recordings of birds and gentle waves, There Has To Be More adapts better to the worldly burden Phoenix Asteroid occasionally felt anchored by. That said, Radioseed’s potential deal-breaker revolves around his unparalleled enthusiasm which, when pushed into overdrive (as on ‘Summer Shower’), results in the care-free tone of an amusement park commercial (i.e.: “everybody’s looking for something/it’s summertime/I can’t wait, I can’t wait to get out there/and show you what it’s all about!!”. (If you’ve heard the track, you’ll agree with my liberal inclusion of exclamation marks.) Wikstrom may push his pop sensibilities to uncomfortable limits that one time but the rest of Radioseed fits joyously into indie-electronica’s rewarding gray area. A thoroughly successful reimagining of the Ecovillage sound.

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