simmer down by elderbrook review

Imagine the sound ice makes as it submerges itself into a steaming cup of dark black coffee. Crackling and pleasing, but not nearly as dreamy as Alexander Kortz makes it sound when he turns it into music. Working under the name Elderbrook, this London-based artist has brought new textures to the minimalist electronic music scene. Kortz quietly enters the world of music as he releases his debut EP Simmer Down; a darkly ambient – but at the same time jazzy – piece that will leave you wanting more. Think of Elderbrook as a lovechild of the Frank Ocean and Bon Iver, with a slight bounce of Jamie xx. Starting out in an indie band as a teenager, Kortz’s folk influences have seeped into the sound of the new EP.  The high-school nostalgia that is still present in his low-key garage sound takes you on a trip down memory lane. To say Alexander Kortz brings a new perspective to electronic music is an understatement.

Kortz breaks away from the norm by layering different textures over top of each other in his EP Simmer Down, creating something similar to a puzzle. Every song is different and has its own feel. You have to piece it all together to get a full picture. Satisfying my personal passion for electronic experimentalism, Alexander Kortz admitted his love for recording weird sounds and using them in this music; they range from pencils hitting books to the crackling of the ice. Being a musician that never records in a studio, he uses anything he can find in his bedroom to make his electronic sound different from the rest. Growing up, I only listened to electronic music in my dad’s car, so I couldn’t imagine listening to it at home. I believe this definitely EP does not belong in home speakers. Simmer Down is alive and becomes a perfect soundtrack for a busy city life with its cinematic feel. The listener must submerge the album into city life, adding a new layer over top of other textures Elderbrook has already created. Each layer is well thought out, making the album clean and showing off flawless execution.

Simmer Down is lethargic, a bit jazzy and moody, but it definitely has a touch of sunshine. Just like the music, Kortz’ voice dances in waves and is definitely something that takes some getting used to. The constantly changing tonalities show off his rich vocal range and his baritone adds to the darker undertones of the EP. It is clean, fresh and slightly bitter as some out-of-beat sounds may catch you off guard. The album is a definite grower. It might not be the best thing you’ve heard at first, but soon it begins to soothe and hypnotize you with its unstable, shaky and constantly trembling sounds. Some might find it unsettling that, just like the varying vocal tonalities, Alexander Kortz will take you on an emotional ride that will make you want to cry and dance at the same time. Just like the chart topping British band Bastille, who are known for their happy pop-sound and overly depressing lyrics, Kortz is able to combine the two extremes and add a new layer to his sound. Nothing is better than a cry dance.

In an overflowing booming industry, Elderbrook tries his best to sound different with his strange samples and pulsing sounds. Simmer Down, a collection of songs with a common theme of change, outlines the need to break away from the generic electronic sound. The industry needs more people who are unafraid to experiment with sampling mundane life to make it into something interesting. Just like Kortz states in his top song Could, life, just like electric music, is bland and “if you want to switch up, you could.”


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