Pursuit Grooves: Mo​:​Delic Island (What Rules, 2021)

July 25, 2021 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pursuit Grooves: Mo​:​Delic Island

Vanese Smith’s newest album is a set of instrumentals based around the concept of a fantasy island filled with indescribable, magical creatures which all provide uplifting energy to those who encounter them. In conjunction with the release, Smith has designed several art prints corresponding with the songs/creatures, and to my eyes, they register as hybrids of butterflies and colorful birds, perhaps with traces of fish and reptiles. To those who rely on the safety of everything being easily identifiable, the creatures might look weird and confusing, but for people who see things differently and look for beauty in unexpected places, they’re fascinating. The same can be said about Pursuit Grooves’ music; it’s always been offbeat and unconventional, and never fits into an easy category, but her broken beat patterns and warm, sometimes blossom-like bass tones are unmistakable for anyone else, and the originality makes her work stand out. Her music never really seems dark, but this album is especially focused on positivity, with simple track titles that all express joy and the transmission of energy. I always appreciate music that’s optimistic and hopeful but doesn’t get cloying and beat you over the head with happy happy joy joy. Not that something like that doesn’t have its place too, I enjoy my fair share of obnoxious Euro-cheese, but for an extremely introverted person like me, low-key good vibes are more my speed, and that’s the lane this music travels down. All of these tracks are busy yet spacious enough so that you can listen attentively and appreciate their intricacies. The chimes, soft drums, and pianos of “Cheer” glisten like a smooth R&B instrumental, while the pounding beats and bulbous, bass of “Hope” could test any heavyweight London soundsystem. “Zing” is another standout, with beats as jagged as the letter Z, but once you get the hang of their obtuseness, the flow is quite easy and refreshing.

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