2020 – Electronic / Experimental
The second collaborative project by Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye presents a broader and more promising vision for music, however, it seems to be something not so long-lasting.
Jockstrap is an interesting project. The British duo sounds like a modernist avant-garde that wants to redesign classic art by introducing contemporary elements. They don’t want to destroy the Monalisa, but maybe they want to place it inside a spaceship. They don’t want to break a grand piano with an axe, but maybe they want to plug electronic cables into its keys to form a disturbed sound. And this wonderfully weird mix could only be formed by different people: Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye. Both met at the Guildhall Music School, while Ellery studied Jazz and its classical instruments, Skye learned about electronic music and a future that we still don’t understand. Even though they both have and still work separately, Ellery already contributes to some bands and Skye has released some solo songs, they realized that their almost unpredictable chemical reaction would become an excellent collaboration. In 2018, they appeared with their first project, Love Is the Key to the City, and now they make their second testament, Wicked City.
Wicked City, despite its numerous similarities to the Jockstrap’s previous project, appears even more emotional, violent, vicious and brutal with dualities even more wide open. While Love Is the Key to the City seemed shy in its sonic innovations while mixing classical music with futuristic beats, Wicked City doesn’t care about anything. Its sound is more precocious and advanced, with violent futuristic beats that mix with a sentimental morbidity of pianos and violins and with the lyrics that show feelings that are so hidden that you cannot explain the sensations with words, just feel it. And this fierce difference can be found on the opener, “Robert”. While the first track of Love Is the Key to the City was a mix of lo-fi with great classical music, the first track of Wicked City, which is a collab with hip hop trio Injury Reserve, appears with a distorted voice and beats muffled early on. Shortly after Georgia appeared singing “You’re provoking me Robert / I want to be your play mate” with a drunk electronic voice, Steppa J Groggs appears rhyming in front of distorted electronic voices that sound totally unsettling. Then, we have a synthesizer that appears in our ears painfully before an electronic table creates an unconventional beat. This whole mix of electronic music with hip hop and experimental music was done so well that it resulted in an excellent opening track that really raised expectations for Wicked City.
Fortunately, things get better. Right after “Robert”, we have “Acid”, the best track on the EP. As much as this track is not as violent or as ambitious as the first track, this one manages to be even more captivating and impressive. Alongside classical instruments that build these extremely well-known romantic melodies and harmonies, Georgia sings: “Since then we’ve spoken twice / But what if you were to kill me off or worse, yourself?”. Here, the lyrics remain a little obscure and the rest of it sounds extremely beautiful, romantic and inspiring, even in the moments when Skye’s production leaves the solo of the classic and introduces completely synthetic elements. In the end, everything here got together perfectly, making it seem that classical instruments and electronic beats were born for each other. A little later, Georgia’s excellent vocal performance becomes a main star in “The City”, where she sings beautifully: “I breathed in a city like a fool / But only because it was you” alongside a piano solo. However, in the middle of the track everything is thrown into the air and replaced by synthesizers and electronic voices. Even though both parts are very well made and produced and the transition from both is almost perfect, the electronic part ended up being a little unnecessary here since the acoustic part was very good, in addition to this working as a breather in the midst of so many synthetic sounds. In short, both parts are very good, but perhaps they would have worked better if they had been separated.
Furthermore, as much as Ellery’s lyrics are very well written, there are tracks here that work totally independent of the lyric part. “Yellow In Green” has a beautiful lyrics that gets even more alive with the instrumental that seems to have been composed for a great musical or classic theater. The pianos dance around your head while the singer’s voice performs beautifully, however, none of these are perfectly crystalline since the synthetic flaws made by synthesizers give a more charming air to the track. At the end of the EP, “City Hell” appears with the track that has the most potential to captivate more people. At the beginning of the track, the robotic voice appears singing lost verses that build a path to a chorus based on a well-known beat. However, that was not enough and Skye put it all aside with its disturbing beats and fine synthesizers that seem to cut our heads from side to side. Both tracks rise more like sound poetry than lyric poetry.
Finally, at the end, you can reflect and find the biggest defect of Wicked City: its temporality that is composed of tracks that are easily forgettable. As much as the songs here sound like great futuristic experiments that try to rescue classic art and give it a new face, in the end, you will barely remember the tracks. The beats will be easily swept from your mind and the poetic lyrics will turn to dust in an instant. It is extremely sad to arrive at this analysis since there is a visionary vision here, however, it is also undeniable to say that you will forget these tracks in two days. Perhaps, if Jockstrap had bet on beats better known to the general public and had not focused on those that are classified as “fancy people’s music”, they would have extended their longitude.
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Check Out Jockstrap on BandCamp