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‘PROMISED LAND’ sees Paul Blanco delve into his emotions to produce an otherworldly masterpiece following his signing to AMBITION MUSIK.
Blanco’s latest release maintains the gothic vibes emulated on previous album covers, however such visuals are merely a guise as the 8 track EP includes a complex variety of songs which blend hip-hop, R&B and electro with his otherworldly production and vocals to conjure up another world.
Wasting no time, ‘PROMISED LAND’ opens with ‘Rust’, a song which uses instruments which typically would not work together to produce a chaotic, yet organised audio experience. A plucked harp accompanied by warped vocals captivates the listener before an elongated electric guitar chord raises in octave to introduce a distorted beat which Blanco raps over. With the harp acting as the melodic line and playing throughout, Blanco introduces new elements as the song processes, such as a violin and electronic sounds like techno keys nostalgic of 90s video games. Using a sample of a crow’s cry to finish his rap and emphasise his final lyric, Blanco allows the instrumentals to draw ‘Rust’ to a close.
Shifting the tone of the EP, ‘As You Wish’ uses airy vocals, synths and piano to open the song before the beat drops and strips back the instrumentals. The harmonising synths and vocals are accompanied by a staccato (short and noncontinuous) beat and piano melody line, which transports the listener to a dream in which they are soaring above the clouds while basking in the sunlight, feeling hopeful with Blanco stating that he has “got you”.
‘Better Days’, ‘Songcry’ and ‘Go’, emulate similar vibes to ‘As You Wish’ thanks to Blanco’s signature ear candy vocals and production techniques. ‘Better Days’ continues the journey that ‘As You Wish’ started, moving from daytime to dusk. With guitar plucking and crisp piano chords, Blanco is accompanied as he comforts the listener with words such as, “Don’t worry no more, ‘cause I got it from here” to allow the listener to envision listening to the song whilst on an evening drive. In comparison, ‘Songcry’ uses suspended synths and echos to create an infinite, empty space reminiscent of an ethereal internal monologue. Distorted, muffled background vocals build alongside the synths to crescendo, before Blanco is joined by the beat to vocalise about his haters being “mad ‘cause [he] got what they need”. Using similar techniques as the previous songs, ‘Go’ draws ‘PROMISED LAND’ to a close and conveys, quite simply, that Blanco has said all he needs to say and that “it’s time to go”.
Listen to PROMISED LAND here:
Contrasting with these songs, ‘Touch The Floor’ and ‘Angel’ use stronger beats to create more hip-hop-esque tracks. ‘Touch The Floor’ is reminiscent in beat, rap structure and production as labelmate CHANGMO’s latest album ‘UNDERGROUND ROCKSTAR’, which Paul Blanco worked on as multiple roles, including producer and composer. The lyrics of ‘Touch The Floor’ discuss materialistic objects, such as the famous “red bottom” heels or rather Louboutins and is a heavily hip-hop influenced song than other tracks included in the EP. Whereas ‘Angel’ amalgamates qualities from the soft and aggressive tracks of ‘PROMISED LAND’ to produce a unique song which only Blanco could produce. Opening with a soft, emotional introduction by Blanco and a guitar, the song then shifts halfway through to include a prominent snare, harmonica, strings, synths, piano and whistling in what would typically be classed as the chorus. During the instrumental, Blanco is silent and only rejoins to close out the song in a diminuendo (a decrease in volume and pace) with stripped back instrumentals.
The only track, which is slightly underwhelming, is ‘Make Us Proud’. A female voice recording sample opens the song and states, “Hey. I don’t have that much time to waste, but I just drove past your old place. And, fuck, I think, maybe, I made a mistake”, which disrupts the trance which Blanco has put the listener in. Since no other artist has been featured on the album, the sudden intrusion of an unfamiliar voice disjoints the EP and feels unnecessary. Despite that though, the production quality is just as good as the other tracks and maintains Blanco’s signature style and playfulness.
For this EP, it is clear that Paul Blanco aimed to produce sounds which healed and re-energised the listener. He prioritises conveying particular feelings and emotions, rather than mainstream hits, all the while using his signature ear-candy techniques to please the listener and maintain the premise of exploring the ‘PROMISED LAND’.
- Catherine Parker