01 May 2014 (released)
28 June 2014
Texas native, Ras Xix, released his self-titled album on the 1st May; an album which, like the title suggests, encompasses the unique methodologies utilised by the multi-instrumentalist.
What can best be defined as an amalgamation of rock and electronic elements (or rock-tronica), ‘Ras Xix: The Album’ incorporates the purity of rock and acoustic with the synth resistance arising in modern times, distinguishing himself from the hoi polloi in the genre innovatively. Enhancing songs using phase modulation and expert turntablism gives ‘Ras Xix’ that something else; that added extra component that could either be recognised as ingenious or wholly incompatible. Even softer ballads are backed by digitised waveforms strung out on loops to provide an extra mind-expanding layer to proceedings.
Ras Xix goes to some lengths to infuse a myriad of international influences, no doubt gathered from the journeyman’s travels, none more so than the Latin inspired ‘Las Arenas de Cartagena’. Led by a rhythmic guitar and complimented by Afro-Latin percussion, the song exudes attitude and sex appeal. ‘Miss Simon’ isn’t too far behind with its charming bossa nova smoothness taking over intermittently during the verses.
The overall outcome of Ras Xix stylistic choices is a spiky, colourful and, often times, quite poignant album wound together with consummate precision. One has to give credit where it’s due to the talented music-making machine, who personally added each constituent to the album (except for the drums) and produced it into something coherent, still, I really wished he had gone into more detail to really emphasise the album’s multi-dimensionality. Ultimately, this is largely a goofproof rock album that only threatens to be creatively insubordinate.
This being said, Ras Xix’s musical dexterity makes him a man apart and his ability as a songwriter takes this album up a level or two. Displaying a multi-octaval vocal range that is not unlike Seattle rocker, Chris Cornell, Ras Xix’s enigmatic lyrics radiate symbolism, often using astronomy metaphorically with kaleidoscopic descriptiveness. It’s these songs – songs like ‘Nora 5’, ‘Simulacrum’ and ‘Intergalactic Love Affair’ - that conjure comparisons with the likes of Soundgarden and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.