Rokwell&Groom 'New Parts'
Rokwell & Groom's album "New Parts" is a ethereal journey through worldly rhythms, hazy synths and vocals that float on a sea of reverb. Haunting yet uplifting simultaneously, it's an engaging debut that belies its near-accidental inception.
Vocalist Felicity Groom and producer/multi-instrumentalist Diger Rokwell began to work together after it was suggested they collaborate for a one-off gig - Cut & Paste Collaborations. Deciding to create new material, rather than just mash together their respective musical worlds, the duo exchanged files and ideas via the internet, building a cohesive set for the night, which was all but completed before they had even met. They received such an enthusiastic response, that the one-night-only performance evolved into a fully fledged creative project.
With both artists being WAMI award winners in their respective fields, Groom's success with her previous album Gossamer, and Rokwell's extensive DIY beat making catalogue, "New Parts" is an intricately balanced production. On the opening track "Impossible Alps" vocals drift effortlessly over the top of a casual rhythm, while synth and guitar lines swoop in to add density, creating a kind of ambience you can get lost in.
While this otherworldly sensation continues through the album, the next track "New Parts" ups the ante, stretching tones and esoteric transmissions over a steadily thumping drum pattern. Despite the mystical sensation and subtle tension, the album is never really dark. It's more smokey, with frequent pulses of strange coloured lights glowing through, diffused by the haze.
The tracks "Old Town" and "Little Lions" hark back to elements of Rokwell's "Beat Tourism" releases, referencing traditional hip hop sounds but shaping them into forms unique to this collaboration. "Omaha" steps up the intensity once more, with an almost menacing synth line, but is softened by Groom's engrossing vocals. "Inflatable Afterlife" rounds out the experience. Strings are plucked and drums are carefully placed, then removed, stopping and starting, creating a space for what could be the most intriguing vocal performance of the album.
Recalling elements of Massive Attack, Portishead, Bat for Lashes and Zola Jesus, but imitating no-one, the duo of Rokwell & Groom stand poised to make an impact. "New Parts" is an insightful reflection of its time, utilising each artists strengths to create a unique and fascinating release.