Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Kevin Lux album "OP-Z+VP-03" Reviewed

Kevin Lux, the Chicago based electronic musician, set himself the daunting challenge to record an album using just 2 instruments, a Teenage Engineering OP-Z and a Roland VP-03, not only that, each song had to be created using no more than 3 audio tracks on each song!

The OP-Z
Roland VP-03

"Musikbox" opens the album and is quite engaging and has pulses of synth sounds, that reminded me of the "Computer World" era of Kraftwerk, fantastic rhythm and sequenced bass-Lines, "Box Rock" continues in a similar vein and has "Speak And Spell" voice type samples, the rhythm is very interesting on this one, varied and includes those Zap sounds that Kraftwerk are famed for.

Track 3 "Improvisation 52K19 V2" is a bonus track, wonderful warm pads, over I would say, a Japanese sounding music base, again I like the drums, nice sequencer patterns too. "Hypnotise" has a great Kraftwerk inspired rhythm section, great panning of percussion elements, I like the voice pads, this track has a harder edge. "xuL Talk" has a sprinkling of melody across another Kraftwerk inspired rhythm section, very upbeat and and has a great bass sequencer as a backdrop, good use of pads, which give the song a bit more depth.

Next up we have "System", which boasts a fantastic bass-line with an overlay of another bass sound playing the same pattern, quite effective, again upbeat and like what has gone before it holds your attention. Good use again of "Speak And Spell" voices on "Numbers 2 4", this definitely would fit in nicely on Kraftwerk's "Computer World" album, effective use of pad sounds, this song has a bit more depth to it as there is a bit more going on, that catches your attention. "Wardenclyffe" has more of an "Acid House" feel to it, I did find the strange bass sounding synth a bit grating after a while, probably my least favourite track thus far.

"Tripping" reminded me of Manchester band 808 State, especially the rhythm construction, good use of vocoded vocals, "Receiver" is a fantastic track, great pace to the track and the sequenced elements are top draw, think "Showroom Dummies", a groovy delight! Favourite track so far and a candidate for a single with some remixes.

Following that we have "Rhythm People" another wonderfully executed track, vocoded vocals with a short pad melody, something Kraftwerk do quite often on their songs, it works for them and it works for Kevin on this track. "Propeller" is a rhythm and vocoder dominated track with a sprinkling of melody, the bass sounds definitely have an "Acid House" touch about them, works well too. "Identification" is another big favourite of mine, I love the rhythm section and the pad sounds, as well as the melodic parts, a bit of dubstep too in the rhythm section.

"Century" asks the question what electronic music will sound like in the future, quite an intersting question, how much further can technology drive music?? The lead pad sounds brilliant over the rhythmic elements of the track, there is quite a lot going on in this song, the pads reminded me of Kraftwerk's "Franz Schubert", another big highlight on the album. "Shadowman", reminds me of Kraftwerk's "Techno Pop" album period, strong drums and excellent use of different melody parts, this is another favourite of mine, it's quite filmic in its delivery.

"Nimbus" features quite an interesting rhythm section and overlayed are wonderful sequencer and lead melodies, almost a soundtrack composition. The album closes with the song "Lightwaves", which is haunting and atmospheric with music being the key ingredient instead of rhythm, definitely a highlight, and my favourite track on the album, super stuff!

What Kevin has achieved here, with the restrictions he has put on himself, is quite staggering, it has pushed his creative skills to the limit and he has produced a wonderful and epic album that any Kraftwerk fan, indeed, any Machine-Pop fan would love to have in their music collection.

A fabulous achievement 9/10

The album is available as a digital download from Bandcamp:

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