A beautiful dance between purity and chaos
Grammy award-winning artist and producer Rostam has blessed the musical world with his latest solo album Changephobia. As one of the founding members of Vampire Weekend, as well as being the producer on countless artist records, Rostam creates a fusion of electronic soundscapes mixed with contemporary jazz saxophone stylings perfectly paired with his flawless vocals. The album is emotional and pure, yet powerful, truly allowing any listener to become the main character.
Growing up in Washington, DC, Rostam found himself achieving his first number one album at the ripe age of 27. His discography stands a vast list, which includes being a part of Vampire Weekend and Discovery, as well as being the producer for artists like HAIM and Clairo, and the list goes on. His signature production landed him a nomination for Album of the Year Grammy, accompanied by the description as one of the greatest indie rock/pop producers. While we may be a part of so many different projects, Changephobia is a part of his solo career following his 2017 release, Half-Light. Though the album carries Rostam’s signature glossy vocals, Changephobia is riddled with new sounds and tones that are refreshing to the ear.
With the feeling of emerging out of the water to a blissful first breath, “These Kids We Knew” kicks off the record with a swirling feeling of weightlessness. As a queer artist himself, Rostam highlights the new generation of kids who are fighting for things like LGBTQ+ rights, equality and climate change that past generations may have been silent on. The lyrics “These kids we knew for so long/ They don’t speak like they’ve been spoken to/ By governments or emperors” alludes to the ever-changing minds of today’s youth and how they speak their minds and not a government constructed voice.
“From the Back of a Cab” is a highlighted single off the record that starts off with a thrashing industrial sound that quickly softens. The song features a beautiful aromatic electric guitar that sings, waving through the ever-constant synthetic drums. Though the instruments are at times rough around the edges, Rostam’s vocals are emotional and romantic, creating a perfect balance of soft and jagged.
A previous collaboration friend from the HAIM record, baritone saxophone player Henry Solomon joins in on the song “Kinney.” This song is a fast, nonstop constant balance of sounds. Solomon’s saxophone playing reminds of jazz artist Iain Ballamy, as it has a cinematic quality accompanied by fast Prodigy-style mechanical drums. The song is consistent and never lets up to a smooth relief from the pounding endless drum loop. In fact, it crashes into a sound assault of heavily overdriven guitar, screeching synths and soloing guitars.
The title track, “Changephobia,” is the complete opposite to “Kinney,” as it is a soothing vibe with a dancing saxophone that peaks through as well as lush solos. The drums are driving, but they remain calm throughout, and Rostam’s vocals seem to envelop the ears and mind-driving thoughts with lyrics like, “Was it just changephobia/ That made you scared of the future in front of ya?” while also calming the mind all at the same time.
Rostam’s second solo record, Changephobia, includes moments of pureness and romanticism that blend with chaotic synthetic motion, creating the perfect musical juxtaposition.