Veteran attempts to find new footing
Ever since the EDM explosion of the early 2010s, producers have been frantically trying to jump onto the bandwagon and create bassy and obnoxious festival fodder. And although Rob Garza has been steadily crafting DJ mixes and putting out short collections of club tracks, he is pretty late to the EDM party and fails to stay relevant in an extremely oversaturated music scene. He is famous for Thievery Corporation, the duo that made waves in the late ’90s with easy listening downtempo trip hop and dub tracks. The chill vibe has made it onto Dissolve, Rob Garza’s new solo EP. Essentially, it’s just a collection of three already released singles and a new song “Dissolve.” This EP is a soulless series of generic deep house tracks that sound like lesser versions of the already 100 billion of them that exist.
“Dissolve” is the intro track and this thing is a mess. Thumping kicks and percussion washed in fake overblown reverb doesn’t help the inaudibly sung vocals from sounding bad. The mixing is atrocious, some percussion is drenched in effects and some are totally dry and stand out awkwardly. You might as well bang your head against a wall for four minutes. There is no musical variation, no real song structure or evolution, things that make a club track interesting. The vocals are the loudest thing here, besides the kick and the misplaced delay, the elongated vocal melody makes it literally impossible to tell what the vocalist is saying.
Next up, “Dobruja” follows the same formula, some atmosphere followed by a three notes bassline that gets old faster than a housefly. The woodwinds that are supposed to give this track its old world “exotic” vibe sounds like a bad VST synth preset, but if you’re drunk at a club somewhere you probably won’t care too much. Some pretty, but again fake, VST choir adds something of interest around the middle of the track, but it doesn’t go anywhere melodically and this is an extremely repetitive club song. And most are, but when you don’t add major variation to a track for three minutes, it turns into a snooze fest.
“Your Calling” is a dime a dozen electro track with bad lyrics and singing drowned in so much reverb and delay singer Stee Downes might as well be singing underwater. The generic lyrics are to be expected, but the vocalist has so much more reverb on him than any other piece of instrument or percussion. This makes the vocals sound out of place in the mix and makes the lower end of the track muddy and flat. The rest of the track is just fine, bright synth arpeggios compliment the grittier bass. These synths sound good but it’s loop over and over and the lack of variation can be fatiguing.
“Velvet Coffin” ends the EP with a gritty bassline, sequenced groovy percussion and some more VST choir for a moody atmosphere. This is the highlight of the EP as it features the best mixing and sound selection on Dissolve. And while too repetitive and short for a club setting, this song keeps Dissolve from being a complete waste of time.
On Dissolve, it feels as if Rob Garza is producing tracks to play in between other artists tracks at festivals and clubs. Club goers will hear 45 seconds of one drop played into 45 seconds of a drop from a different track. The trouble is, it feels like Garza knows this, causing many of these tracks to be one note and passable. It sounds like he is just having fun DJ-ing and wants to improve his brand by being able to play his own stuff at his shows and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t deep, interesting nor does it tell us anything about Garza as an artist and person.