Vessels: A single and EP with an excellent Rationale

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Sometimes a song sounds best when it’s simple. When the canons of soul, funk and folk are considered as genres of music that are meant to move people–the tradition of musicians laying themselves bare in front of crowds in informal gatherings and stadiums becomes clearer, and the purpose behind the art of noise, and the timeless art of composition are equally laid bare.

Sometimes this purpose joins with technology in ways that create fresh, new sounds.

If the four singles Rationale has released from his forthcoming album are any indication, this soulful electropop singer-songwriter’s baritone voice is likely to be a signature, fresh sound of 2017. The collection on its way to EP status is fierce.

Prodigal Son,”  “Palms,” and “Something for Nothing,” are all soulful ballads with electronic tinges that have drawn the artist a fierce following that he’s built over the course of his career, and unique sonic fusion that have been notable. Tracks from his prior LP Fuel to the Fire, such as “Fast Lane” have been equally described as “80’s inflected late night soul.”

‘Vessels’, released in December,  is the latest single from Rationale’s upcoming release of the same title. This single displays the London-based singer’s vocal talent–which has recently been tested in Bastille’s arena tour of Europe. The sparser production of this single, compared to some of his more polished work, is a refreshing departure that is especially apt for work that fits well into the canon that could be called “the travel song.” Gospel undertones and a striking, syncopated backbeat frame simple piano strains and choral refrains in a production that makes married soul and folk concepts work together in an unexpected way.

It’s not surprising though, considering that Rationale, who was born in Zimbabwe, but raised in East London, credits his mother’s “eclectic” record collection as an influence.

The eclectic nature of composition really shines through in examination to the lyrics of this single, which read:

Most people I know wouldn’t know that they’re living a lie/Tracing every penny, clinging on to a lonely life/We have a choice to define our fate/Fall in line or break the chain/Empty vessels, empty lives.

Lyrics from this piano ballad also have a particularly nostalgic feel–and meaning to Rationale, according to an article featured on The Line of Best Fit.

He says, “The lyrics for “Vessels” were written thousands of miles up in the sky on my way to LA. I was missing home and the people I care about–and contemplating the time I’d spent away from them all year. The lyrics pretty much wrote themselves, and the production is a joint [work] between me and my friend Bastian Langebaek.”

Langebaek, a producer originally from Copenhagen who also goes by the name “Goldfish,”  has many production credits to his name, and is responsible for fusion sound of his own right. He is most recently credited with Jack Garratt’s 2016 single ‘Worry,’ and worked on projects that include Sway Clarke II and Tom Micsh.

Vessels is currently available on iTunes and was featured on their Best of the Week playlist. Rationale is touring Great Britain next month. I hope he eventually makes it stateside.

It’s also awesome that he’s quite willing to #Resist, on Twitter.

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Like music curated by humans? Try Conduit: It’s definitely more interesting than machine-curated sets.

I like to hang out on Ello. It’s got a lot of awesome creative content on it right now — and is defying all the predictions that it would be a short-lived “Facebook” that is somehow less terrible than “Facebook” in experience. It’s not at all dead.

When you understand what the platform is about, you find that Ello is really a hub for the arts. I don’t know where else I can create something in an afternoon and have people who do similar things respond so quickly. The platform is about so much more than building a fanbase, or a friend base. It’s about being inspired and finding inspiration.

In my Ello travels, I find lots of awesome things.

This week, I found Conduit, and won a free year of the service just by commenting. It was pretty awesome. In the world of music, I’ve won concert tickets in the past, and I’ve gotten the chance to talk to awesome musicians and blog about it. Breaking down the greater experience behind the rhythm and beat is something I enjoy.

And I, like most people, generally don’t tend to think much of “free.” I’ve had several press passes, which are more about the labor involved than “freedom” by any stretch of the imagination. But when it comes to reporting on media, for me, it’s always a labor of love. Art is life. Life is art. I live and breathe it.

I found in an afternoon of listening that Conduit, and its method of human curation, is surprisingly good. Not just good. But notable. This is a service that is actually doing something for me that others aren’t. It’s definitely worth the $1 a month for three months to try. I’ll have to keep listening and examining playlists to see if it’s worth the $6 that is still far under what more “robust” services charge.

In the sets I listened to, there were moments that honestly felt a little more like magic in a way that curating my own lists on Spotify doesn’t give me, in a way predictive algorithms like those pioneered on Pandora can’t match.

I found the kind of surprises I used to look for when I made mixtapes off of the radio off of Saturday night club sets as a pre-teen, and the moments when I’d stand in the middle of an extended set being spun at a backyard barbecue by some of my closest friends, or even their sets at a burn community party.

I really like this kind of magic. It keeps things interesting. You might want to know more about how Conduit works though, if you want to invest in it for yourself.

Here are five solid reasons I’m looking forward to a new listening alternative via Conduit this year:

It’s structured in a way where I can pick a channel to groove to for hours.

These curated sets aren’t about quick fixes. They’re full-on sensory experiences that envelop the listener in mood. I felt like I was in a late 90’s Chicago coffeehouse scene as I brewed my own drip off of ground dark roast and listened to Jahsonic’s Late Night City Vibes set I found in a category called “SoulTerrain.”

It was so much more than sounds strung together in a way they might sound pleasing. It was about a journey through patterns of sound meant to create a very specific vibe. It was legit.

It’s got variety. It’s not just “House.”

I don’t even know if “House” is a big thing anymore, but it was a serious thing in the culture I came from. There are numerous channels, and the hour-long playlists Conduit contains are numbered and indexed. Some of them are even structured to feel like a real, old school mixtape. You can really feel the personality of the DJ shine through in every set.

The categories are entirely up to the artist, a bit nebulous, but 100% wild and fierce.

I am not exactly sure what a tag for “beats like butterfly wings” is representing, but it’s intriguing.

It’s carefully curated by people who love to D.J.

Conduit’s creator literally eats, breathes and sleeps music, and teaches classes on how to DJ in Denver, while serving and working in its tech-conscious community at Dojo4. These people don’t just love to spin, they love to create music that creates a serious sense of flow and have impressive resumes.

It’s easy to categorize and link up to content I can buy, if I love it and want to keep it forever.

I can click links to take me to tracks that are available on Amazon and iTunes. That’s pretty awesome stuff if I want to take something with me to the beach, or for my morning jog.

I can also like songs individually within sets, by clicking the thumb icon in the lower right-hand corner, which is awesome stuff for when I’m so in the groove all of the sounds start harmoniously blending together — should I want to revisit them.

This is more than just awesome music.

So. Conduit. Definitely conducive to fueling my writing and general lifestyle with excellently curated sound. Also, easy to navigate, and responsive to tech problems, as DJ Joel Davis personally responded to me for mine.

If nothing else, it was completely worth it just to hear the DJ Drez & Marti Nikko rendition of Under the Bridge.