Artist Overview: cln.

Now that the new school year has started for us here at UChicago, it seems more than fitting that we share with our listeners so fantastic new music. cln. (yes that is his name) is yet another amazingly talented producer based out of Australia, a.k.a. Callan Alexander. Seriously, it’s starting to get ridiculous how much good music is coming from Down Under, but goddam I’m not complaining at all. Here we have two original tracks from cln. who actually seems more interested in producing original tracks rather than remixes, but his remixes are also amazingly well done as I’ll make sure to add one at the end. The two tracks that I’m focusing on are “Sideways” and “Better Than,” both off of the EP entitled Sideways. Both tracks definitely have a unique production style that I think really separates itself apart from the other Australian producers coming onto the scene now. Let’s start with “Better Than.”

Let me start by saying that neither of these tracks have any vocal. Which is interesting in today’s electro world. The funny thing is that neither of them need vocals…. like at all. Right from the beginning in “Better Than” you see a very melodic driving line in the upper register, that takes the place of the vocal in another track. Looking at the track as a whole, it builds better than almost any track I’ve ever heard. It starts off with a very clear 4 beat ebb and flow, meaning that every 4 beats you’ll have different volumes coming at you. This does several things: first, it keeps the track from getting stale or repetitive; second, it allows the listener to better anticipate shifts or transitions in the music. Oh by the way, the entire song is almost entirely produced by synth. The blending of long, held out chords in the middle register with the more rhythmically focused upper level synth lines creates a song that has a lot of depth because it makes an effort to keep the listener on their toes. Furthermore, the introduction of a lot of minimalist “bell tone” lines provides an added layer of production that contrasts well with the highly produced lower lines. I haven’t gotten to the beat. Holy shit the drum line here is everything you want out of a thoughtful, driving, piece of music like this. It moves between complex rhythms and simple rhythms seamlessly and (more importantly) cuts out at the perfect moments in order to build up the tension in the melody and provide a really fantastic drop like at the 2:50 mark. Overall, a very very well done track.

“Sideways” starts in a decidedly different in its beginning. We start with a sort of playful xylophone (probably just a synth really) that later gets embedded into that unique cln. production quality that emerges in the bass lines. “Sideways” was released about a month after “Better Than” and you can see a lot of growth and maturity in this class. The introduction of the xylophone as both a a rhythmic and melodic device shows a deep understanding of his own sound. Then, almost out of nowhere you hear what sounds like a set of violins carrying a lot of the melodic lines, supporting the more sparse xylophone line. Just like “Better Than,” this track builds just about as well as any track I’ve listened to. The hard hitting synth chords blend perfectly with the violin and xylophone, which creates sort of a perfect storm of sound. At the 1:40 mark, the track decomposes and the individual parts are allowed to emerge. And then, just as you get comfortable at 2:15, all of the instrumental elements are reassembled and thrown back in your face in a perfectly blended wall of sound. This is grade-A production quality, which I personally haven’t seen executed this well in quite a while.

Anyway, I’ve written enough. I’m linking both of the tracks below, along with cln.’s remix of Disclosure’s “White Noise” just so you can see how talented the Australian artist is, even on remix tracks. As always, please comment with thoughts and suggestions below!

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