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Entertainment August 4, 2014

Review: “Feelings In Colour” by Darker Than Wax & Cascade Records

Feelings In Colour is an ambitious release that compiles both the multi-continent rosters of Singapore’s Darker Than Wax and France’s Cascade Rcords into one spectacular double-LP.

By Hidzir Junaini

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Darker Than Wax aren’t exactly fresh faces in the beat scene, but despite their already stellar track record, the last 12 months or so must have been especially invigorating for pundits and the homegrown crew themselves.

Momentum is at an all-time high as their family of local DJs consistently blazes a trail across the island, impressing with its vibrancy both on high profile occasions (opening for Basic Soul Unit or Four Tet) and at smaller scale parties (headlining Good Times or Gem Bar).

Similarly, its label arm is also at its peak. Releases from their stable of international producers such as Arrows by Deep Shoq and Diversions by Wayvee (among others) have earned nothing but adulation from the underground scene in recent months.

There’s an air of excitement around Darker Than Wax right now that’s reminiscent of the aura surrounding imprints like Brownswood or Ninja Tune in the mid-90s’; it’s almost a given that anything they come up with will be of guaranteed quality.

Half way around the world, France’s Cascade Records has been weaving the very same magic. Its projects bring to light its heartfelt, alternative approach to electronic music.

With so much in common, it’s little wonder the two independent labels have joined forces to produce Feelings In Colour, an ambitious release that compiles both their multi-continent rosters into one spectacular double-LP.

The collaboration has been a long time coming, especially when you consider the fact that DTW head honcho, Dean Chew (aka Funk Bast*rd) and Cascade Records co-founder, Sal Martin, have known each other since the days of Myspace.

We both have a mutual respect and dedication to the beat scene, and this is just a contribution to the growing movement. It was evident that we were going through this rich moment, when our sounds began to emerge and solidify,” explains Sal.

Although Feelings In Colour is stitched together with a multitude of artists across different countries and disparate genres, it never feels disjointed. 

The album surveys electronic music’s more inventive territories and then revels in their border crossings. Its makers were careful not to get hung-up on any particular tempo, jumping to and fro deep house, future beats, footwork, bass and other less classifiable strains with deft purpose.

There are club-friendly tracks, there are bedroom head-nodders and plenty that fall somewhere in between, but the common element that thread these unspecific sounds is an assured sense of restraint alongside a very identifiable forward-thinking ideology. 

Its rare for an album to sound classic and futuristic at the same time, but each of these 17 tracks, from Milo Mills’ 2-step garage workout in “I Need You” to Bugseed’s jazzed-up hip-hop instrumentals in “Inner City Blues”, straddle that fine line with consummate brilliance. We’re moved.

Limited copies of the Feelings In Colour vinyl will be available for sale at S$40 at Binary, the album’s launch party, held at The Vault on August 9th. More details on the event here