Electric Children is the recording project of electronic music producer Jack Waterman. Based out of Seattle, Waterman has spent the ‘10s using this project to craft very busy, loud and heavy pieces of electro house. His approach to creating music in this style is differentiated mainly by his taste in sound-craft, which is incredibly indebted to the modern-day chiptune scene, in which electronic musicians will build their songs using synthesizers and samples from retro video games. Waterman’s sound palette of choice is the classic Game Boy, which gives his latest release, a 5-track EP called Reanimate, a unique vibe somewhere between pretty and gritty.
The Reanimate EP is a 5-song, sub-20 minute release of relentless, punchy, varied, and often times catchy house music, with a lo-fi, bitcrushed aesthetic to it. The synthesizers on this EP are dense, they’re noisy, they’re sharp, but the songs themselves tend to follow fairly straightforward modern house progressions, with slow, but driving openings, epic builds, and monstrous drops. That’s not to discredit this EP as generic or uninspired, though. If anything, it’s impressive just how much variety Waterman was able to conjure on this EP using these familiar formulas.
Whether it’s the second track, FYJK (which rides a kick-snare groove alike something you’d hear in a modern drum and bass track from Knife Party or Flux Pavilion), or the closer, Menteuse (which is easily the most festival-friendly, big room house-esque track on this EP), every track on here finds its own way to be special, while still remaining incredibly frenetic and awesome. It’s borderline impossible to listen through this EP and sit still, with just how great Electric Children is at hitting grooves and keeping them engaging throughout.
Emerald City Outrage is a track that is most definitely aptly named, with its infectious groove, massive drops, and its brittle, distorted, densely-layered synthesizers that make this track almost too cacophonous to handle, but it has a certain fire and intensity that’s hard to deny. It has an element of abrasive noise pop to it that hearkens back to the noisier moments on Crystal Castles I. Even among other chiptune-EDM producers in his style like I Am Your Destruction and MotionRide, Electric Children stands out because of his defiantly atonal and compressed sound, particularly on Emerald City Outage and the opener Azreal.
The most jarring track in the track listing here is When I’m With You 2015, the only track on here to feature prominent vocals from Waterman, and easily the most poppy and sugary track this project has ever penned. Between the melodic, digitally-processed lead vocals, comparatively bright and bleeping lead synthesizers, and its modern dance-pop groove, the track feels like Waterman’s attempt at crafting an indie dance-pop number. It still feels definitively Electric Children, with his uncompromisingly dissonant sound palette intact, and though the mixing on the track feels a tad rushed, and the processed-to-hell-and-back lead vocals do take a turn for the obnoxious, it isn’t enough to throw the EP totally off.
The Bandcamp description of this EP states that Reanimate is, “the final EP from Electric Children for the foreseeable future,” and if this is to be the last Electric Children release we’ll see for a long while, we think it’s fair to say the project has went out on a pretty stellar note. Chock full of killer grooves, chaotic drops, punch-drunk drum timbres, and a really strong attention to detail in its sound-play and atmosphere, Reanimate holds its own as one of the most visceral and standout EDM releases that the Pacific Northwest will see this year.
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