Music

Producer Roza Terenzi's ​​Debut LP Shows Flashes of Greatness​

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Producer Roza Terenzi's Modern Bliss shows she can take on many sounds at once—jungle, dub, trance, deep house, and classic Detroit techno—without sacrificing any flair or any nuance.

Modern Bliss
Roza Terenzi

Planet Euphorique

You might say Roza Terenzi, aka Katie Campbell, was always destined to become a music producer. Her father, Murray Campbell, was part of the electronic dub group Beatworld. At age nine, she released her first song, "Cut the Crap Rap", a playful, humorous rap ditty which can still be heard on Bandcamp. Now, in her early 20s, she's had a string of successful EPs behind her, including last year's Let's Ride. The EP was her most complete work to date, full of 1990s-style breakbeats, quirky house rhythms, and dreamy electro. She takes things up a notch on Modern Bliss, her debut LP for Planet Euphorique Records. Campbell's sound here features more layers and more punch than any of her EPs.

The first track, "Jungle in the City", is a direct ode to Beatworld, taking its name from the group's 1998 album The Jungle in the City. It's downtempo on an epic scale, pristine and aggressive at once. A raucous, pulsating hip-hop groove drives the song, but it's surrounded by shimmering pads and distant, wordless female vocals. The percussion has a liquid sound like the drums have all been waterlogged, which only heightens the pristine feeling. Few tracks go so hard and still sound so delicate.

That is a theme throughout Modern Bliss: even the most aggressive moments somehow feel soothing. Are they supposed to lull you, or make you want to dance? Most of the time, they make you want to do both. Take the title track, which features vocals from Barcelona-based producer Ivy Barkakati. Terenzi employs a banging 4/4 techno beat as Barkakati delivers a spoken-word mantra of "Clarity, intention, direction/ exactly where I need to be / My thoughts create reality," over and over for five minutes. Barkakati's soft, half-whispered delivery offsets the main groove beautifully. "Total Eclipse" features metallic percussion and a thick, funky bassline, balanced by twinkling synths and distant male vocals that have been pitch-shifted to sound extra low and guttural. Tracks like these find a perfect equilibrium between serenity and aggression, lush soundscapes, and four-on-the-floor techno.

Not every song captures this balance perfectly, however. Some tracks suffer from outright plainness or lack of variation. The groove on "Yo-Yo" is led by shakers, hi-hats, and probably the album's most melodic bassline, but there's little going on around it. "Eternal Lust" may be the album's weakest link; here, we have some gorgeous breathy vocals and another beautiful murmuring bass, but for a song that pushes the nine-minute mark, it doesn't really do much. There isn't enough variation to keep things interesting. The main groove fades around the four-minute mark, like the song will change direction, but then the groove just goes on and on, with few details added. Such tracks don't exactly fail; they simply feel dispensable and don't add anything new.

In the second half, the best songs are often the ones that go hardest, such as "That Track (Rewired Mix)" and "My Reality Cheque Bounced (feat. DJ Zozi)". These tracks more than make up for some of the album's blander moments. "That Track" features a clapping beat playing over an odd, off-kilter rap melody that—despite being almost unintelligible (aside from the opening lyric, "Here I come")—is easily the catchiest moment of the record. "My Reality Cheque Bounced", the album's final track, is probably it's most club-ready. Terenzi employs a searing jungle groove on top of squeaky-clean synths, sinister bass, and a sample of indecipherable children's vocals. It's a song that sounds retro and futuristic at once like it could've been made in the 1990s or some time years from now.

All in all, Modern Bliss is a mixed bag that—though it occasionally stumbles—shows flashes of greatness. There are enough bangers to offset the moments when the album gets too plodding and laborious. If the album proves anything, it proves that Terenzi can take on many sounds at once—jungle, dub, trance, deep house, and classic Detroit techno—without sacrificing any flair or any nuance. The album may not break any barriers, but it signifies an artist who can, and very well might. Modern Bliss is a testament to Katie Campbell's massive potential. One can only hope for greater things from here.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.