New directions from an emerging artist
Santolina is the latest EP from the emerging artist Yot Club, otherwise known as Mississippi native Ryan Kaiser. This EP is the first major release after the young musician’s newfound internet fame through a viral TikTok audio featuring his track “YKWIM?” Drifting from the mellow, bedroom-pop sounds of his previous works, Santolina offers a larger variety of genre exploration. While Yot Club pushes himself into new territory on this new release, one might question if he bit off more than he can chew.
The EP opens with “Alive,” an easygoing, bright track that plays into formulaic structures with a simplistic success. The instrumental choices—specifically the vibrant guitar tones used—aid in this carefree and danceable atmosphere. Kaiser’s vocals contrast with this orchestration a bit, as his flippant, bedroom-pop timbre doesn’t quite reach the same levels of energy as the backing track. Throughout the EP, however, one gets more accustomed to these vocals and almost appreciates this quirky contrast.
“Channel 4” diverts drastically from the opening track, aiming instead for a grooving, ‘80s synth disco sound. While this shift in the genre is a bit jarring, the spacey strings and synths paired with the deep bubbling bass line are an unexpected surprise. Orchestral synth hits create a sporadic rhythmic groove over the churning bass line, and Kaiser’s vocals fit within this irregular pattern. “It’s Easy” utilizes a similar set of synths as well but focuses more on growing the soundscape with a more laid-back and lyrical construction.
With almost all of the tracks on this EP, there is a repetitiveness within each song which tends to drag them down a bit. A key reason for this is the lack of internal development as each song plays out. Tracks such as “Deer Island” have a charming quality from the get-go but lack any evolution towards the core material presented. This results in tracks that feel as if they don’t quite “go” anywhere during their runtime. While the simplicity of tracks such as these makes for entertaining music in passing, one can’t help but yearn for the type of musical development that Yot Club is more than capable of producing.
Tracks such as “Crescent City” are not only a highlight of the EP but prove Yot Club’s ability to balance simplicity and thematic development in his music. This instrumental song utilizes an array of synth colors to create a spacey, gentle atmosphere reminiscent of video game music. Different instrument voices are layers in and out, creating thick and expansive textures which build to a satisfying peak mid-song. Guitar melodies create a call-and-response type motive with glittering synths, and the track ends as all of these textures morph together into a singular, atonal buzzing.
Overall, Santolina is an exciting album for Yot Club, as it shows this young artist isn’t afraid to experiment in new directions. While the shift between genres feels a bit out-of-place for such a short tracklist, this EP feels more like pockets of experimentations leading to a larger, more involved project. Hopefully, Yot Club hones his writing skills as he pushes forward and treats his listeners to music that is not only carefree and danceable but has the developmental strengths to go alongside it.