• Sat, Dec 10, 2022
Reviews

Curtain Blue Has Put Out An Excellent Bit Of Electronica With 'S.T.R.I.P.E.S'

9.0

album Reviews Nov 11, 05:35pm

There’s not much to criticize here. This EP is innovative, interesting and sounds absolutely gorgeous. Winner!

Curtain Blue is the creative moniker of one Abhishek Bhatia, a maker and producer of electronic music. Abhishek has been rather quiet over the last few years; his debut was all the way back in 2015 (that was an EP called Drones), followed by a couple more EPs. Drones as a collection of tracks was a strong announcement of the arrival of a talented musician, and this new EP 'S.T.R.I.P.E.S' (put out by Export Quality Records, who are on a hell of a run right now) is more than just a continuation. It's an improvement on all fronts, and a thoroughly compelling release. It's quality.

This release is absolutely all about the production, and boy, does it deliver. Abhishek has a talent for combining acoustic and electronic elements in a way that is extremely tasteful. He goes from bruising hip-hop and trap grooves to Black Sands-era Bonobo with an ease that make you think he can do this stuff in his sleep. Upright bass rubs shoulders with some great horn sounds on one track. On another, its treated vocals and booming, squelched sub-bass. There's a great number of tools in Curtain Blue's toolbox, and he uses them judiciously to put together four eminently listenable songs.

Things start off with the instant standout 'Right Into You' One could say this is the most accessible tune on here, and one would most probably be right. The highly autotuned vocal chops and stabs are very hummable; expect this to spend quite some time stuck in your head. The percussion on this beat is a bit stutter-y, but the rest of the tune does a good job of smoothening things out. The groove on 'Is It You That I Want' has trap influences in its sound but is much more flowing and laid back in execution (think Memphis). The huge 808s on this tune also deserve a shoutout; this simple sound is the backbone of more than 2 decades of rap and does a great job of providing atmosphere here. The synths and brass are wonderful too; this song just goes over extremely well, straight-up.

There’s more in store on the more relaxed, calm ‘All for you’. It’s a more atmospheric number; gone are the big trap hats and the aggressive snares. Now vocals are right in front of a rather woolly mix with some ambience behind in. Some really nice strings make their appearance and drive the tune. In fact, even after some horns come in and you notice a lonely, easygoing piano that’s been there the whole time, there isn’t a strong groove to be found. Some artists take a left turn during an hour-long album, but Curtain Blue does it on the third track of a four-track EP. Of course, the second half of the song gets jazzy and evocative to a point where describing it does the listening experience a disservice. The EP ends with ‘Sunkissed’, which is the most groove-heavy tune of the bunch and suffers a bit for it. It’s a great tune on its own (think lava-lamp bass, lovely synth work and, well, that groove), but it comes as a sudden change, maybe to its own detriment. It still works on its own, in a strange, surreal kind of way.

Abhishek strikes one as the kind of musician who puts a hell of a lot of thought into his music. More than anything, this is what Curtain Blue shows on ‘S.T.R.I.P.E.S’; attention to detail. Strangely enough, this can still be felt in an age of many an artist phoning their art in. That’s what separates a listening experience from something you’d hear while walking past a supermarket. As mentioned before, this is a winner.

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