Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Roberto Rodriguez - Dawn (Album Review)
Roberto Rodriguez, a.k.a. Manolo, is a DJ and Producer from Finland. Starting out as a Deep House producer and club promoter in the 90’s, Roberto is no newbie to the electronic dance music scene. I stumbled across the album, “Dawn” right around the time I was checking in on one of my favorite producers, Jacques Renault, who happened to just have a remix for Roberto’s single “Tell Me”. Renault’s remix has such a sexy groove to it and when I heard Kholi’s vocals pleasantly laid on top of it, I needed to know who this Roberto fellow was and what his deal was. I started doing some research and came across a list of monikers he has gone by in the past. The one that stood out right away was Bermuda, which is the Nu Disco “brain child” of Roberto Rodriguez and Kimmo Oksanen. The duo released a track last summer titled, “Ihasama” on Serenades Records. Combining the talents of a Deep House and a Nu Disco producer a lovely spaced out deep track was born and in my opinion was the creative begining of “Dawn”.
I remember falling in love with House music for the first time. I was just barely 18 years of age, bright-eyed and ready to sweat my 110lb (soaking wet) body into pure rave-tastic ecstasy(pun?). I can’t tell you who was playing, but I can remember the groove I felt when those chicago style synth hits rang in my ears. I smiled so big that it made me wish I was wearing chapstick! Why am I going back and reliving the starting point of what would later be known as my “glory daze”? Roberto Rodriguez’s newest album “Dawn”, is why.
The album is comprised of a variety of throwback House samples, Nu Disco deep synths, and an arsenal of vocals/samples. The first track, Tito, catches you with grand piano sneaking up your spine with a crescendo over the top of your head and a decrescendo over your face like a next day shower. A perfect way to start this journey of this multi-genre influenced mastermind, Roberto Rodriguez. The next track, Show Me, does actually shows you what to expect for the rest of this head bobbing ride. A mixture of deep House, Nu Disco, Funk, 90’s House and his own personal flare. He segues into some serious vocal sampling in the next track “Eternity”. This track has a straight up 90’s jock jam type break down at the 3:20 marker. Listening to this album in it’s entirety gives me the impression that he put a lot of thought into when and where each track should be placed.
AFTER THE JUMP...
“I Believe In You” is the title of the fourth track. It’s a heavy hitting Nu Disco beauty, filled with all the essentials, hand drums, arpeggiated synths, and funky pulse hitting bass riffs: This track will make you want to combine disco and samba dancing...and I like the sound of that! The next song, “Love Withdrawal” is one of my favorites on the album. The offset pianos tied together with an equally offsetting bass riff make for a funky genre smashing track. Can someone please classify this track for me? I’m just going to make up a genre... how about Nu Deep Disco House? Okay fine...it’s Nu Disco. Moving forward.
Soulful House vocals in my opinion are not utilized nearly as much as they should be, but on Tell Me, Kholi has a section of her vocals that are very soulful and then brought back into a more Pop-y Nu Disco track. I am a fan of this combining the best of both genres trend! Saturn, the appropriately named spaced-out italo disco track, explores the realms of funky guitar riffs and cosmic sci-fi synth stabs/arps. This track keeps things moving forward and evolves righteously over the next five and half minutes. And while we are still tripping out over what we just heard we are greeted in the next track by phased out church like bells from the future on the eighth track “Try (How Am I Supposed To)”. This song changes so often from one direction to another you almost forget that you haven’t changed the track until it brings you back in with its wide panned bass stabs that almost sandwiches your ears from straying away from all the glitched out vocal samples.
In my opinion, the best song on this album is number nine, “Eva”. From the first kick, I knew it was meant to be. You might even say it was love at first 90’s House beat. I don’t know if I can stress the craftiness and importance of using vocal samples as an instrument in the development of electronic dance music. Well, I feel like after listening to this album I can officially rest with ease knowing that some of roots of old-school House music have not been lost.
The entire album from start to finish is well rounded and severely entertaining. I am looking forward to the day when I see Roberto’s name on the U Street Music Hall calendar! By the way, this is only half of the album that I spoke about.There are a total of 14 monstrous tracks on the album plus 4 bonus tracks when you purchase it on ITunes. I’m going to go listen to the rest of the album on repeat and I highly suggest you do the same!