“Straight outta Cardiff…” boasts the bio section on the Facebook page of Pete Lawrie Winfield, aka Until the Ribbon Breaks. If this quip doesn’t persuade you to look into this artist, maybe this album review will. Last week, this talented Welshmen dropped A Taste of Silver, a 5 track EP that refuses to be restricted to contemporary standards and genres. Using chill electronic percussion, airy keyboards, and good ol’ fashioned soul power, UTRB pushes the frontier of “future R&B” reminiscent of acts like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd.
Musically, razor sharp beats cut up smooth harmonies and spacey synths you haven’t heard since ‘83. Winfield’s passionate vocals prevent the sound from reaching a cold and mechanical state, just as the sound ensures Winfield is just the right amount of detached. It’s like a dance war between the humans and the machines. UTRB maintains a musical homeostasis between its many facets that is cohesive, not chaotic. Other than that, the album’s sound is hard to pin down. The EP is musically at the peak of modernity. It’s pop without the sickening sweet superficiality. It’s cold comfort R&B. It’s chill-out electronica with a soul.
Lyrically, Winfield crafts imagery that evokes both beauty and desolation. Simultaneously, his words feel frail and hopeless, but also powerful, personal, and soulful. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of music and lyrics that creates this tension, but UTRB’s lyrical intent, like his style overall, remains elusively shapeshifting. Lyrics conflict and contradict, but fluidly so; never does the listener feel alienated, but this will warmly embrace you in its vastness. Plus, a guest appearance by rapper Homeboy Sandman on “Perspective” livens up the lyrical style and meter, further adding to the album’s desire to remain fresh.
The whole EP constantly toes the line between polished and raw. Winfield’s voice is serene and is often accompanied by a classic grand piano and other tranquil tones, but harsh beats and screaming synths occasionally interject to keep things from getting too peaceful. The recent trend of industrial minimalism found in the Death Grips’ No Love Deep Web and Kanye West’s Yeezus is present, but is refined and redefined to fit Winfield’s unique style.
This album truly has something for everyone without spreading itself thin for mass appeal. Just as soon as you’re sure it’s R&B, it turns ambient house, but not before it slides into straight up hip-hop. UTRB effortlessly defies genre by blending elements of all types of music, and does so without seeming scatterbrained or forced. The music is easy to digest, but Winfield’s wordplay makes it highly replayable. This EP is the culmination of many major music genres in the past 30 years. It is the soundtrack to a modernizing age in which free-thinkers and open-minded individuals prevent themselves from confined and conformed.
“Pressure” and “Perspective” are currently in rotation on WDBM Impact 89FM.
Written by Kevin Glide
Photo credit: www.deadendhiphop.com