27 May 2014 (Software)
Software is easily one of the most interesting and eccentric labels of the year. Since January alone Thug Entrancer, Sculpture, and Slava have demonstrated how electronic musical composition can be pushed and the diverse directions it is heading. Front manned by Oneohtrix Point Never, Software is the ideal place for this strain of music to grow.
Napolian is next up on Software with his debut album Incuriso. His 2012 EP, Rejoice was one of the first releases on the label and he has been with them ever since. In his early 20’s, Napolian (born Ian Evans) grew up around Los Angeles and was influenced by the regions legacy of gangster rap. While it pokes its head up every once and a while, there is no one style Napolian can be tied down to. He bounces all around the spectrum yet he still has a very strong sense of purpose and direction.
In it simplest form Napolian practices a clean production style. Every sound and sample used has a smooth appearance with rounded corners and no protruding edges. In many cases the repetition of a loop can be all that holds a song together, but in Napolian’s case the puzzle pieces of sound fit snuggly together. The sounds he uses are as diverse as the styles that influence him. From every assortment of drum pads to synths and dry vocal samples, Napolian moves between songs with the extreme dexterity shared by his label mates.
As much as Napolian expresses his hometown through his music, his age shines true in the form of bringing elements of trap and weaving them throughout Incursio. The first appearances of it come around “I’m Yours” with the rattling high hats and snares slithering between the spotless production that holds up the rest of the track. Later on the phenomenal first single “DARP” takes its turn flirting with trap as well.
Between the sounds and the ideas it would at first seem like Incursio took a more EDM style of production with cliché build-ups and drops, but it is quite the opposite, as far as structure goes, Napolian joins the ranks of accomplished hip-hop producers. While a verse or two has no place muddying up Napolian’s spotless plate called Incursio, he has produced for rappers before. Notably he worked on A$AP Ferg’s album Trap Lord and produced a track for Kelela on her Cut 4 Me mixtape. Napolian shines more making instrumental music than any other kind, much like the other Software prospects.
It is true that Napolian is right at home on Software, but not for one minute can it be assumed that he sounds like any of the other musicians. Some of his signature aspects are his unbelievably catchy hooks and grooving melodies. Incursio is one of the more danceable hip-hop influenced albums to surface and the track “1 Peter 1:3-4” is a perfect example of this. The cutting synths pasted across funky drum machine work create a danceable yet elusively climaxing track.
The album itself ebbs and flows drastically in its scarcely noticeable 50 minutes. Tracks like “Peace & Safety / Αἰφνίδιος Ολεθρος” serve as much needed down time in the sea of ever-moving complexity. This track in particular reaches a level of deep ambient quality demonstrating the depth of Napolian’s work, no style is left unturned or ignored.
In it’s entirety Incusio belongs on Software alongside Oneohtrix Point Never because Napolian is part of the group of artists expanding electronic composition. He practices no restrictions of genre or sound, nothing is off limits yet everything he touches he makes uniquely his. One of the biggest ruts electronic musicians fall into is having to fit in a certain style or sound. They spend too long trying to imitate or recreate someone else they forget to add a little of themselves. Naoplian is not that kind of electronic musician.
Ratting: Love It