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Crate Digging: Chris Christoforou, Siren Music
Music & Sound
London, UK
The fourteenth episode in the music discovery and discussion series from Concord Recorded Music

Crate Digging is a music discovery platform where contributors take home an discuss two records from across Concord Recorded Music’s active and historical labels.

Chris Christoforou, Production Assistant and Associate Music Supervisor at Siren Music, discusses his top two finds.

My frontline find is Nubya Garcia’s SOURCE. After coming across her 6 track album, ‘Nubia’s 5ive’ in 2018, I was instantly hooked to her sound.

This was amplified after seeing her perform at Cross The Tracks festival that same year, where she took complete control of the stage and blessed our eardrums with her beautiful music. So, when SOURCE was released 2 years later, I was more than excited to give it a listen and I was not disappointed.

Comparing her first record ‘Nubia’s 5ive’ to ‘SOURCE’, you can tell she has come a very long way with her sound. I loved her first record, Nubia’s 5ive - it was a beautifully constructed and tame minimalist jazz album. I think she focused more on the individual balance between instruments in that record and catching a general vibe, whereas SOURCE comes across very powerful and full on, which I believe demonstrates her creative ability in a more mature and thought provoking manner.

There are definitely minimalist elements in SOURCE too, but the accompaniment of the high intensity tracks created a more dynamic sounding record and highlights the beauty in each style. After delving deep into this album, I really believe she wanted to reach her full potential, and it definitely came across as such. I also really appreciate the features on this record, and adding conservative vocal elements into the mix, really takes the record to a new dimension and shows how versatile her sound actually is. The production has clearly taken a step up from the last record, and is very consistent throughout which is very important considering the wide range of dynamics in this album. You can go from 0 to 100 and straight back down to 0 in a matter of seconds, and it’s executed with precision, ease, and style in a seamless manner

The whole record feels like a journey from front to back, and paints an incredible picture of her art. The album begins with ‘Pace’ - a track that truly lives up to the name. The track starts off with beautiful piano arpeggiation over the top of a stern bassline and rolling drums that really set the tone for the record and throws you straight in the deep end. It’s not long before Nubya comes in with her sax and starts to dictate the flow of the track.

This is pretty consistent throughout the whole album too, as Garcia really takes control of the band and dictates the direction of each track, while also leaving room for the other instruments to shine in moments. A good example of this is the keys solo in track number 2, ‘The Message Continues’. As the sax drops out quietly, you start to hear the soft keys become more and more apparent, and the transition into this section couldn’t have been executed better. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in a whirlwind of keys that take over the mix and adds to the versatility of the album. 

 Some of my favourite tracks on the record are ‘Pace’, ‘La Cumbia Me Está Llamando’, ‘Stand Out With Each other’ and ‘Inner Game’.

Overall, I really really enjoyed this album when it came out, and just as much so today while writing this. I think it’s a beautiful journey from front to back, that does nothing but immerse you in Nubya Garcia’s sounds which take you to a new planet with every listen. 

For a catalogue record I went Between The Buried And Me’s Between The Buried And Me.

Now this is a bit of a throwback for me. I’ve never actually given this album a listen until now, however I am very familiar with their later records and this style of metal in general. Growing up I was obsessed with bands like Lamb Of God, Underoath, Atreyu, August Burns Red, the list goes on! Although my metal days are behind me, I’ll always have a soft spot for it - partly due to nostalgia, but also because I really appreciate the craft that goes into making this genre of music.

The early 2000s was quite a pivotal era for metal music, as it was beginning to outgrow ‘Heavy Metal’ with bands like Metallica, Pantera, and Iron Maiden all featuring less on peoples radars, while new, more modern music became more prevalent in society. In turn, the evolution of the genre began with bands like Lamb Of God, Bullet For My Valentine, Underoath blending the old Heavy Metal style, with more modern, ‘Metal Core’, ‘Post Hardcore’ and ‘Death Core’ elements into their music. Stylistically, a lot of elements are shared throughout these sub genres, however the use of ‘breakdowns’ became more and more important, accompanied by screaming vocals from front to back of an album. It seemed that the more nutty and in your face the record is, the more in tune with the genre it is deemed. This is by no means a bad thing, however what it did was make modern metal more niche, where in the 80s and 90s, everybody seemed to dabble in the genre. I also think this is partly why the community is one of the best music communities out there, as everyone involved completely appreciates one another, and has a complete understanding of the culture. 

Anyway, the self titled debut Between The Buried And Me record is a brilliant album, that I think really encapsulates this crossover period in metal music, and blends the old school and the new really well. The riffs throughout came across as very Pantera, however they maintain an originality that separates the instrumentation from one another. The rhythmic chugging and blast beats in ‘Naked By The Computer’ are a great example of how the boundaries of the genre were being pushed in that time, to create an insane, demonic energy to just lose yourself in. I really appreciate the melodic clean vocals in ‘Aspirations’ too - it adds such a contrast to the majority of the album to show how versatile the band can actually be, and demonstrates that you can truly blend the most juxtaposing sounds in a seamless manner. 

Overall, I think this is a great record that is really true to its time, and demonstrates the progression of the genre really well.

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