Every once in a while an artist will come along that makes you think. Something fresh, energetic, full of anger and hope. Singapore's Ras Xix recently relocated to Austin, Texas to pursue his passion in the range of a greater audience. These actions alone give you reason to listen, but the true incentive is his superb song writing, charismatic voice and distinct style.
Throughout his self titled debut, to be dropped on the world May 1st, 2014, Xix hops from genre to genre. Dipping into the late 90's relaxed world of Incubus, to the angst filled early 90's realm of grunge and flannel, all the way to the exotic sounds of spanish tinged flamenco, bringing to mind the great The Mars Volta. All while retaining a solid distinct style of his own. There is a lot going on here if you couldn't grasp that already, be prepared for twists and turns that will make you question what you are listening too. Its an interesting trip into the world of Ras Xix, a trip any listener should be open too.
The opener, an mutt of a song called "Weightless With You," answers the question; what if Dinosaur Jr, Nirvana and Incubus had a baby? While this may sound over zealous on the part of the artist it works surprisingly well. Transitioning smoothly between melancholy and happiness with ease. It stands out as the highlight track of the album. Its a simple song, as far as texture, structure and instrumentation goes. It works for what it is. A tribute to the popularity of 90's alt rock. Xix falters by branching off into other dimensions. Some that perhaps should be left out for further releases.
Directly following the opening track comes the worldbeat tinged, acoustic pleaser, "Nora 5." While it is a solid song, a simple acoustic guitar progression backed by a fat clean bass line and waterfall droplets of percussion, it throws off the listener. The energy from "Weightless With You" is lost and transfered into this embryonic ballad. Perhaps something that could have been stashed for a later release or until the album progress a little more. As the songs that follow retain the same 90's nostalgic feel.
Until "Las Arenas De Cartagena" comes along. A mid tempo flamenco groove, touched by mixtures of turn table scratches and Brandon Boydesque vocal melodies. Sounding somewhere between "Genie in a Bottle" by the one and only X-tina and The Mars Volta, it is an interesting effort. It showcases Xix fluency in spanish as well as his diverse taste in music. However it does not fully speak for the rest of the album.
So while Ras Xix is seen to be an over all talented songwriter, musician and vocalist, it is the complexity of his music and perhaps the over zealousness of it that holds him back. This could have been a great 90's worship album from the far reaches of Singapore. So while the individual songs hold up and themselves are impressive, the album as a whole fails to come through
[Ed- He's currently charging $20 for an 11 track digital download on his bandcamp. Sheesh!]