Half Normal – First Contact EP

Now, we’ve got a bit of a unique situation in Calgary; in that we have a seemingly higher-than-average love and appreciation for the deeper side of electronic genres. We’re also fortunate to have a few of some of the best-known collectives for not only promoting established artists in that facet of the sonics-phere, but also nurturing and helping new artists emerge.

With that being said, enter Half Normal

Half Normal is the brainchild of Calgary’s Bambooloo Music and Edmonton’s Method Sound. Both are quite well known within their respective cities as being forward thinking in their productions, as well as being natural leaders and aiding in the betterment of the scene as a whole.

Personally, I don’t know the two very well on a personal level, so that is why I took it upon myself to write about this release from a close to complete outside perspective.

Upon hearing this EP for the first time, I knew I had to pull out the dusty writing utensils and put some serious thoughts down about it, as the name Half Normal has stuck out to me for just over a month now, since their initial debut mix released through Noctilux Collective’s Monthly Mix Series.

Before I branch into each track, I want to remind you all that the above-mentioned mix is 100% original music. This is something I rarely see even among the most famous of artists. It became immediately clear to me that not only do these two have some absolutely amazing dynamic between them, but they, in my opinion, have created what I would call “a serious force to reckon with” for the Canadian Dub Music Industry and the world abroad. This can only be a result of pure knowledge, and experience.

Now onto the goods.

Let me start by saying this EP is very aptly named. Obviously so for it being their first release; but cognitively so as even with the first track, you’re transported to an expansive, atmospheric place; Almost as if these transmissions are… Otherworldly.  Paired with an esoteric and enticing brand and identity makes for a genuinely unique presence.

Re.con – The opening track for this EP begins with a subtle intro of what I imagine to be some form of Asian/ Bamboo flute. Which is quickly accompanied by some percussive foley making for a gradually progressive transition into the main parts of the song. From the very moment this breaks, you are presented with some very well articulated drums and percussion. These have been cleverly placed throughout the soundstage giving me the feeling of being in a drum circle of sorts, or out in the wild jungle. This is very reminiscent of something I might hear from Sleeper, but with a uniqueness that could only be achieved by these two.  Upon closing oout this track, I was literally hooked. I had to keep listening to this. As deep, dark, and esoteric are three of my most favourite themes within true Dubstep.

Khufu – Moving to the second track on this release, Half Normal almost continues the Asian-esqe/ Eastern vibe with the intro following suit with the first; only this time feeling more eastern with some interesting reverberation and captivating vocal leading into what they seem to be making apparent as a theme among their songs; amazing percussion. This track in particular would have to be my absolute favorite from the release. I always say I’m a little biased if there’s brass horns; because this is a common theme among a lot of the half tempo beats genre emerging on the other side of the spectrum. But using it very subtly throughout this song really drives that “Oomph” feeling across every time you hear it. Pulls ups for days.

At this point in the listening experience, I was beginning to realize how beautifully structured these tracks were. As I was imagining at certain points throughout the last two songs what and where I could mix with these. This is something that a lot of producers overlook with their composition. Although, it’s not quintessential to the music creation, or even listening aspect, it shows they are aware of how their tracks might be played out by others in a club setting, and want them to sound their very best from mix in to mix out.

Pocket Squid – For this tune, I’ll start by saying that this is where I definitely noticed the influence from Drum and Bass. A very unique blend of almost half-step Ivy Lab (20/20 LDN - You should be more then aware of this, if you aren't #icanteven) feels to that same atmospheric and deep minimalism that they’re defining throughout the release; with an almost neuro feel to paste it all together. I was very curious as this song continued to play. Where are they taking this, what is this going to turn into. With such an interesting mix of little blips and almost quirky sounds, leading to their signature percussive complexities, drawing the reverberated atmosphere; they literally could have taken it anywhere. With homage to the Amen Break, you instantly respect the DnB aspect to this tune.  This track only left me with more questions, but in a good way. Like did they experiment with different directions with this song? Or was this a “one take” sort of production? Either way, it’s a reason for me to actively stay on top of what these boys are up to.

Spooked – Coming into the last song on the release, you should now be familiar with their style; as it has consistently been presented throughout. I very much enjoyed this song, particularly because (either by design or just smart placement) I felt like it was almost a combination of all the songs I’ve just listened through. Or more of a cumulating of what likely little portion of their skills they wanted to introduce them selves to the world with. Pulling elements of all of the above songs, with some very interesting sound design, and an interesting structure as it goes through different paces of percussion, sub bass, and a resonating, punchy mix.

Overall, this was such a pleasure to hear. And I simply cannot wait to see what else Half Normal has in store for us. Here’s to some amazing releases and longevity to the dynamic they share, as I certainly hope they stick around.

Words by ksoms

Just add the fucking guy. He does some seriously sweet stuff.


Michael BenzComment