Fort Romeau: Kingdoms

    The king of electronic albums

    An electronic treasure

    -Kingdoms – Fort Romeau

    8 / 10

            Last year, Los Angeles psych scene figurehead Amanda Brown started 100% Silk, a record label devoted to releasing DIY, house-indebted dance music. After twenty-odd records of sleazy, hallucinatory dance floor anthems, 100% Silk is shifting gears, releasing Fort Romeau’s Kingdoms, the debut solo record by La Roux keyboardist Mike Norris.

    Noticeably, there are no tricks on Kingdoms. Unlike the rest of 100% Silk’s roster, Fort Romeau refrains from indulging in disorienting digital textures, broken rhythms or over-stimulating vocal samplings, leaving the listener with restrained, well-crafted night-drive house music. Norris’ background with relatively high-budget pop is also quickly evident. These tracks resound with the kind of lush analog synth work and professional attention to detail that’s surprising given Fort Romeau’s choice of label.

    Opener “Jack Rollin’” makes Norris’ intentions clear from the start: Beginning with a spacious arrangement of fluttering hi-hats, the song quickly evolves into a catchy, bass-driven floor filler. Highlight “Say Something” finds the perfect intersection between nocturnal pop and ebullient house, sounding like some lost ’90s dance-pop classic with its vocal refrain of “If it’s worth your while, say something to me.”

    The rest of the album is more restrained than those almost radio-friendly tracks, but no less masterful at creating a considerable amount of ambience without losing sight of the groove. This balance is what makes Kingdoms so successful. By tempering his keen ear for melody with the restraint of a skilled producer, Norris has managed to create one of the most cohesive, vividly-realized electronic albums of the year so far.(8/10)
      
     

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