Published on July 12th, 2013 | by Joe-Lou0
The Smart Beats of Starkey
The first time I heard an album by Starkey, I had to stop halfway through and immediately start writing beats. I had never before heard anything quite as crisp as the albumEar Drums and Black Holes. It was a perfect storm of thick dub bass-lines stacked on top of hip hop kits, but those beats react in ways that most kits can’t. Everything has structure, a purpose and above all, emotion. Sometimes, when we hear a wub wub wub, things immediately feel a bit cliche and exhausted, but when Starkey makes the floor rumble it’s not half as self indulgent or banal.
Fast forward to today and we have the new release Orbits. This is definitely PJ Geissinger’s boldest work yet. It takes in your expectation of modern day American dubstep, and completely flips it on its head. There is no warning for a drop and there is no waiting up for anyone. Beats come and go however they damn well please and nothing is spun to cater for the listener. It’s unapologetic and stark (after all, it is Starky). Some of the best parts almost sound like a big “Screw you!” upon first listen. The annoying whiny squeaks that penetrate the drops in tracks like G V Star (Part 2) almost hurt at first, but Starkey will make you learn to love it. This is a huge beat and it’s a smart beat. It’s loud, intricate, and painful. You just have to try and keep up.
I never thought I would ever praise an artist for being kind of annoying.
The dynamics in Orbits create a unique struggle between tense frustration and slow exhaustion. Tracks almost breathe in and out with your emotions. Building things up with larger than life, gorgeous soundscapes, only to pull the rug out from underneath with those aforementioned “screw you” beats. Maybe a better metaphor would be the struggle between good and evil; these parts don’t just clash, they also somehow compliment, and I really can’t stress enough how well this battle works for me. The song Thugs made me teary-eyed on my first few listens. Not because I was sad, but because it pulled out so much frustration in my life. As the song progressed I could feel the buildup of this tension, and then it dropped like a thousand pounds right off my shoulders. I felt like I had just finished a huge project, like I could finally relax and clear my head. I felt relieved, not because the song was over, but because I had just passed trough that struggle. Afterwards, I feel like a million bucks.
I can’t exactly recommend Orbits to everyone, only those who are already interested in this type of music. So maybe start with Ear Drums and Black Holes or the more electro Ephemeral Exhibits, and if you like what you hear, download and crank Orbits. Just be ready to endure. Then again, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. Maybe those squelching strings won’t move you quite as much as they did me. Though I can say that if you don’t care for any of it, you might want to invest in a better subwoofer.