Is it just me or there’s a new wave of interest towards trip-hop these days? New websites emerge out of the blue (like this self-proclaimed “#1 source of Trip-Hop music” – we all know who’s #1 source of Trip-Hop music ;)) every other musician is trying to squeeze in “elements of trip-hop” in their portfolio one way or the other. It’s getting harder and harder for me to find my way in this ocean of kindatrip-hop and almostrip-hop, and even the actual straight-up trip-hop, which is also being produced in copious amounts. Honestly, I’m not even trying anymore, and in choosing releases for reviews I follow two criteria – releases provided by friends and releases that are so outstanding that should not be left without attention. Ideally, those two parameters merge into one. I cannot say that it happened with this one. But it was close. I’ll explain – Forbidden EP from PlayGame (Yekaterinburg, Russia) is an excellent record with many things going for it, some of which I’ll mention later on. I didn’t regret getting it into my hands and writing this review with a great pleasure. But. It this wasn’t a release by my good friends Ru Trip Community, would it make it onto the pages of my blog? Not likely. In part because, yes, simply genre-wise it’s rather a rock record. And this is, strangely enough, the biggest compliment. It’s very refreshing to hear among all this total “indiocy” (just came up with this myself) with shriek-y genderless vocalists and barely audible noises that serve as music, a band with a powerful vocal and musicians that obviously know what they’re doing, while uncompromisingly staying clear from mainstream (don’t get me wrong – most of the songs from the EP would sound great on the radio, the thing is that there is no chance in hell any of them would ever end up on the modern bought-and-sold-radio, and that doesn’t seem to bother the band). Uncompromising would probably be the main epithet that I would use to describe Forbidden EP. It’s an honest and clear album, it’s not a political statement, it’s a personal statement of a human being and an artist, and just try to argue that this is less important in art. It’s a dangerous statement – it divides listeners into two categories – ones who understand and share everything that the band is trying to say, every note, every line, and the ones who “don’t get it”. And the first category will be much smaller because of how intimate PlayGame‘s music is. But I suspect that this doesn’t bother the musicians, they’re looking for listeners who will become friends. It’s not a complaint (even though I’d like to hear more wordplay instead of playing with words in the lyrics), my main complaint is the following, – the keyboards sometimes (pretty often actually) turn from the most interesting and original element of PlayGame‘s music into this ear-depressing irritant. The track “Shiver” was among my favorites on RTC compilation Letters exactly due to the killer keyboard parts that took the track to a whole new level. But on the EP version of the track keyboards dominate, they’re everywhere and, as Mayakovsky said are “stepping on their own song’s throat”. I do realize that I sound like a grumpy old lady and in general, with my abnormal love for minimalism it was a misfortune for Forbidden to even get into my hands, but this is my opinion and wish to the band – to find this happy medium where the abundance of elements is not preventing the listener from enjoying every each one of them separately, because PlayGame does have lots of those elements and all of them are very enjoyable.
You can download the release for free from PlayGame‘s official site.