All words by Lu Makoboka
11pm strikes and like a shadow; the moon has followed the sun’s collapse after its reign over the skies. From left turn to right turn, I try making sense of my surroundings in this forest but the deeper I go in the more I’m swallowed by these huddled trees that reach for the sky… In all honesty, if either of us were to get lost in an unfamiliar forest, the nocturnal feel that Parabyl’s debut project ‘Entanglement EP’ provides would be perfect background music to facilitate this journey. One way to view the project would be an ‘entanglement’ of Stranger Things scores wrapped in Trap, House and Electronica garments by virtue of the kind of synthesizers used.
This comes as no surprise since the word ‘parable’ refers to a story or a fable in the English language and certain tracks like ‘Skinned’ are dreamy enough to be considered fairy tales for the wicked. In the past, I’ve exited some brief conversations with Parabyl (aka Ciaran Slemon) and I have left haunted with confusion; have you ever met someone who is an admirer of the legendary duo Boards of Canada yet at the same time a fan of Rich Homie Quan and Rich Chigga? Quite an interesting combination I’d say. This definitely portrays ‘rich’ and diversified musical taste from the artist and this can be heard all across the ‘boards . The opening track Kipple is a brilliant example since the drums have the engine of a Liquid Drum & Bass song. I found myself being fully able to read whilst listening to it in the background, which is quite ironic as it is one of the few songs on the EP I would imagine would be a smash on the dance floor – maybe even the bedroom. The intro to the song creates so much anticipation because – like the rest of the other tunes – you’ll be asking yourself “what sound is that, what sound is this” and the beginning has a full basket of those elements. That is the moment I knew I can expect beauty in sound design with this offering.
An appearance by local rapper VituxArcade contributes to the Trap/Rap aspect of the project in the track Optics, where many of the lyrics were indeed, as the Trap kids would say “Ignant AF”. Drugs, girls, money and braggadocio lines… I was just surprised the word ‘N’ word wasn’t utilized – until I got to the second verse. Although whether his lines were kosher or not, Parabyl certainly teamed up with a lyrical virtuoso on this one who can keep a steady flow. The second verse seemed to be the most interesting as Vitu opens up and shows some vulnerability with lines that address his views on God, loneliness and his current tide with the motions. Other features on Entanglement EP include fellow co-founder of Stoned Soup (artist collective) Tzara, Mx Blouse and Neptune State. In fact, with the variety of leads jumping across the stereo image in Hydrosphere, it’s almost as if the synths are at war with Neptune State’s vocals and aren’t living in harmony. The lyrics make for one good story and I’m sure it could relate too many men out there since the first thing that came to mind was a ‘lovesick youth’, but the space to clearly articulate the tale was quite limited. Although a group effort did stitch together one of the stand out tracks in the EP. The progression of Dread Ringer is very impressive, especially harmony between the vocals of Tzara and Mx Blouse near the end which made for one unforgettable climax. The use of instrumentation here was also quite simplistic, thus giving the featured vocalists so much room for artistic expression. “I’m calling you my summer love”, a line that’s repeated at different stages of the track which can easily get stuck to your tongue like your favorite peanut butter. Occurring patterns throughout this project I’ve noticed are moog bass, hi-hats and the use of reverb. Reverb refers to ones perception of space for a certain sound, and here much of the drum hits (whether percussion or snares) are spacey and echoed than big and impactful which works pretty well with Parabyl’s style. ‘Skinned’, which lies among the gems in the EP actually switches between the two reverb distinctions mentioned above. The collage of sounds incorporated; guitars, beach fx, sweet female vox samples, bells and synth strings take a detour from the nocturnal feel to a more diurnal kind of imagery. It’s captivating the whole way through as the guitars totally catches one by surprise and the drums carrying an elegant bounce to them.
Entanglement EP stretches on for approximately 40 min including his rendition of a Rose Bonica record as a bonus track. From my experience the EP more so grows on you rather than luring all your excitement and attention the first time around – kind of like the series Stranger Things. What does make this project admirable though is Parabyl’s ability to ‘sound bend’ different styles of music to produce an inimitable type of electronic sound that is true to him.