Active Child – You Are All I See

To my ears, electronic music is generally overly synthetic and shallow, while contemporary R&B is unimaginative, redundant, and superficial and are generally both genres I steer clear away from, yet several years ago while listening to my recommendations radio, I came across electronic artist Pat Grossi and his project Active Child. The song that I heard blended the aforementioned genres, yet it contained an artistic purity and authenticity that they so often seem to lack. Being someone that enjoys experimenting with new music, even genres I have never enjoyed, I decided to check out Active Child’s debut album You Are All I See.

Active Child seamlessly blends a variety of genres into a cohesive and resonating whole. Each song on You Are All I See contains some mixture of electronic music, particularly in the 1980s vein, new wave, synth pop, chamber music, and R&B. The first third of the album shares more resemblance with R&B, especially with Grossi’s vocal style and the drum beats. The title track opens You Are All I See with some sparkling harp, electronic tones, and Grossi’s soft, angelic vocals. His vocals have a subtle church choir boy quality to them, which complements the light and heavenly tone of the album. Hanging On continues in the same style, but with more emphasis on atmosphere, as harp, R&B beats, and angelic vocals build in layers and majesty. The latter two-thirds of the album take a more atmospheric new wave approach, as demonstrated in See Thru Eyes as eighties electronic styles blend seamlessly with harp and new wave rhythms. Way Too Fast is soaked in ethereal atmosphere and lifted higher with falsetto vocals. The last third of the album darkens the mood. Ancient Eye’s ominous atmosphere and darker tone is guided by the lighter plucking of harp. Shield & Sword features an edgier tempo and again contrasted with ascending vocals and harp. Finally, the album closes with the epically resonating atmosphere of Johnny Belinda.

Active Child’s You Are All I See both circumvents and embodies a number of genres I have never developed a taste for, yet does so in a way that makes this album a noteworthy piece of music. Pat Grossi’s versatile voice and the use of harp produce a heavenly and organic aura that contrasts with the otherwise synthetic nature of the music. Much of the electronics is rooted in the 80s, yet the overall sound of the album remains contemporary. In many ways this album bridges the gap between artistic underground music and superficial contemporary mainstream pop music, by taking aspects of the latter and providing credibility to its implementation through a deliberate exploration of its musical possibilities. I really have no point of reference, although fans of ambitious pop and dreamy atmospheric music may find this of interest.

Genre: Electronic, Indie Pop
Country: USA
Label: Vagrant Records
Release: August 23, 2011

1. You Are All I See
2. Hanging On
3. Playing House
4. See Thru Eyes
5. High Priestess
6. Ivy
7. Way Too Fast
8. Ancient Eye
9. Shield & Sword
10. Johnny Belinda

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