CD REVIEW: Niktex - The Power Of Yang
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/06/2011 - 11:28 PM EST
Album: The Power Of Yang
Label: Last Tango Productions
Genre: Ambient, Experimental, Ethno-Ambient, Electro
Sounds Like: Suzanne Vega, Seal, Fiona Apple
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 5/10
Songwriting Skills: 4/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Irrationalities, Pantyhose, Red Car
Weakness: Genera Identity Crisis, Overqualified Production Value, Sonic Oversaturation, Winded Songs, Repetitive Catalogue.
Montreal Canada’s own Nikole Texidor releases her latest CD entitled “The Power of Yang” in 2010. She is heavily influenced by her father Joseph Texidor – a prominent Jazz Percussionists. The group formed in 2009 after Texidor received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to compose bilingual pieces based on journals she had written as a young girl. Pretty fascinating concept.
The CD gently takes to flight with Track 1 “Pantyhose” a slow building into piece that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition with its mesmerizing rhythms, industrial type vibe & hypnotic vocal delivery from Texidor. Track 2 “Irrationalities” is an infectious follow up piece that serves up mesmerizing Tabla groove against easy flowing guitar rhythm & hooky vocal melodies from Texidor. "This too will Pass” delicately serves up yet another compelling piece of music with well-placed harmonies & hypnotic vocals from Texidor. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures that are hard to pin down. The music itself is very melodic & provides an impressive blend of hip hop ambience, & progressive Techno with an Industrial aftertaste. Overall the songs are very melody driven. Texidor’s voice goes holds the melody line & is full of vulnerability & a slice of innocence. The musicianship from all the session players involved is effective. This project brings to the table some impressive production folk & mostly fits a line up of an Ambient production more than a traditional band. You will notice an impressive blend of lush harmonies, sound effects, & sonic touches layered within the confines of the mix with impressive percussive accents. Cornet, synth bass, & many well placed sonic touches & accents. The vocal layering if off the charts, & almost sounds like a choir more than a singer. Niktex fulfills her obligation as a vocal instrument when utilized in this capacity. The songs themselves are extremely dynamic, & progressive in nature. The songwriting is extremely creative, unique & original. Many of the songs have a theatrical ambience about them making for a very entertaining listening experience. I especially like how the whole CD just flows across the ears song for song & note for note - each piece somewhat interconnected with the next. From dynamic “Un Hiver Sous Les Draps” to dark & foreboding “Colours Blurred" You Started Shit” to Hypnotic “Manfather” & this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Traffic in the Rain” the perfect finale statement.
This production is not without a few weaknesses. Texidor has a solid voice, but it’s fair to say she is heavily shielded by the rich umbrella of sonic ambience & musical soundscapes presented in each song. I wonder how well her voice would fair away from this musical security blanket. Thus I wish there were more solitary moments that showcased a world class vocal ability. I don’t recall any vocal risks that would indicate this to me. Because of this vocal seclusion I felt like I had no idea who Niktex was as an artist when the ride was finally over. I also wish many of the musical textures were more earthy, organic with an acoustic foundation. Instead all songs are very synthetic & overly saturated - a weird twist for acoustic music. Although the high end touches were quite brilliant, many of the beats & rhythms presented on the CD sound extremely thin & robotic - lacking serious bottom. Overall - it’s a thin sounding record. I’m not even sure what genera this is? The write up says Neo Jazz. First - I’ve never heard of Neo Jazz, Second – this is not Jazz – not even close! Third - this CD crosses so many musical boundaries it suffers from a genera identity crisis. As a result the production spreads itself way to thin across the board. The mixing is quite expensive, exotic & dynamic – perhaps it’s a bit too dynamic. I like mixing that is relatively conservative & stays in the fairway. This mix is all over the place & feels overcompensating. There comes a point in time where this kind of production effort can become somewhat overqualified & even counterproductive for the artist in question. Some of the vocal layering is a bit over the top. Niktek sounds more like a Choir more than a singer. All songs over 5 minutes drag you to the finish line. It’s fair to say the catalogue is repetitive song for song. When the ride is finally over I felt as if I was hypnotized by 1 very long winded song. If this review seems lopsided it merely reflects the extremes presented on The Power of Yang.
Overall “The Power of Yang” by Niktex is an extremely dynamic & compelling snapshot of music. It’s strong suit – the lush layers on synthetic sound that will bombard your ears like a peaceful rain. The production value is exotic, expensive & will bend over backwards for the listener. It is like a 3 layered cake. It is packed to the hilt with amazing soundscapes & sonic touches that will keep you entertained. Having said that Niktex works best when experienced as a vocal instrument rather than a vocalist. This is how she is presented strategically by this production. All in all this is a rather fascinating snapshot of music. Presumably the The Canada Council for the Arts knows what they are doing.
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