Catching Flies-The Stars EP

I’m sure you get hundreds of these a week, so here’s another one to add to the pile (sorry!) I’ll keep it short and sweet. I’m a 21 year old producer from London. Just so you know, I’m not shit.

We get thousands of submissions monthly. Some are good, some are bad but most are from PR companies reusing the same old email title and the same old email template. Boring and samey. So, if you take the time to write the above in your email about your free EP (download or stream), you’ve got my attention. If your material then walks the walk, you’re about to get everybody’s attention.

For artists who put out instrumental work, there’s nothing to hide behind. No flashy hook or witty punchlines. You’re judged entirely on what’s presented, not what’s percieved, and hence it can be incredibly difficult to ‘get it right’. As most producers don’t accomplish that, others who do get slept on, and understandably so. Wake up.

Combining soft electronic sounds with hip-hop sensibilities, and samples from a range of sources, the influences on Catching Flies’ production work is varied and diverse. In many cases, such eclecticism is a recipe for jagged experimentalism, but in this case it most certainly isn’t; it’s a set of ingredients for smooth, polished productions that are a treat for anyone’s library.

Sunrays opens in a manner befitting both its positioning and the title: airy synths, gentle guitar plucks, and a slow, near-minute long build, introducing the EP with a calmness that’s immediately suggestive of a producer with complete self-assurance.

There’s no need to try and blow your face off with relentlessness to make his name stick, and instead it’s subtlety and quality that drive this one forward. That holds true on the arrival of the percussion, kept thick yet unobtrusive, and complemented by a duo of vocal samples that add their own distinctive qualities to the track: the low harmonising heard first is relaxing with a slightly haunting touch, whilst the sample that includes the track’s title has a much perkier and overtly positive vibe. The overall combination is an excellent introduction to his work that sets up the next track neatly.

The subtle touches and layer depth of the previous track are thrown out initially for more minimalism on Let Your Hair Down, opening with little more than piercing key work and ethereal vocals, before adding a percussion line that shifts the production into a much livelier realm without sacrificing the stripped-back quality the beat aims for.

The distorted Corinne Bailey Rae sample makes for a nice slice of familiarity here, whilst its technical application via double layering at different pitches and stop-start nature exert a real dominance over the flow of the track, and move from being supporting additions to the focal point of the track. It’s an organic transformation that seems to happen almost at the exact moment you’ve figured out where the sample is from. This, admittedly, is based on a sample size of one.

In third is a remix of Mt. Wolf’s Life Size Ghosts, a beautifully eerie alternative effort with tons of atmosphere. The remix moves away from the original’s celestial quality, and gives it a much more grounded style that appears to draw from eastern influences with the instrumentation, via distinctive string work and a mellowing of the soundscape as a whole. Whilst the production work is nothing short of stellar here, the distorted vocal samples used don’t quite capture the original’s power and intensity, and instead end up feeling a bit surplus to requirements throughout. With that said, their use is one of few elements that ensures connectivity with the source work.

I’m admittedly undecided on which version I prefer. Without question, Catching Flies’ remix is exceptional and boasts a richness and diversity the original’s production lacks. However, the sheer grandeur of the original’s vocals is lost in the remix, and as a result, the remix instead ends up feeling much more an original track of its own than a rework of an existing piece. It’s impossible to even frame that as a criticism-the remix is done with so much creativity that it loses almost all connection with the original. Both are superb bits of music that are very much worth your time.

Closing out the EP is The Stars, boasting the most familiar sample of the entire project via the utilisation of Coldplay’s Yellow for short vocal bursts. The production those vocals are layered over ensure the track doesn’t become too centred around the familiar melodies of Chris Martin, returning to the more overtly laidback style heard in the EP’s opener with buttery bass and synth work. Small dashes of tambourine and electronic pulses build a tier of activity on top of that smoothness, making for a beat with enough to both engage and relax, and importantly keep par with the unforgettable vocals.

From ardent hip-hop heads to electro fans, there’s likely to be something in this 4-pack of tracks to capture your interest. There’s a lot of talent here, and what’s most surprising is how refined it already is, with plenty of room to still grow and improve. Does he have everybody’s attention now?

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