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.





12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.


Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."


David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.


On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.


Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.


Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."


How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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