Sunday, June 17, 2012

Matthew Forss Review

Artist: King Danskie
Album: Swankie Music
Review by Matthew Forss

Born on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean, King Danskie (aka Shawn Ryan) is an innovative musician with writhing rhythms and electronic additions that are matched with equally-inventive vocals stemming from calypso, zouk, and soca musical traditions.  Swankie Music celebrates a combination of musical styles steeped with island fervor and vibrant lyrics throughout the nineteen hits contained on the new album.

“Gimme Lickle” opens with a few guttural vocals and a steady, up-tempo beat with punchy percussion and electronic accompaniment and horns.  The party-like song is rich with keyboards, horns, and drums that follow a soca vein and other similarly-structured musical traditions from the Caribbean.  The relatively unchanged vocal melodies create a soca frenzy unlike anything heard before.  The backup vocals match King Danskie’s throaty vocals, but the keyboard percussion, horns, and drums make the song stand out as a party favorite.

Swankie Music CD (Listen on Jango)
“I Want To Know” starts out with laser-like embellishments and a piano melody.  The rickety percussion and throaty vocals resemble a type of hip hop instrumental song.  Though, the vocals reflect a type of alternative pop with urban riffs and miscellaneous vocal embellishments and sounds.  The slightly laid-back approach still reflects a sense of island flavor, but it is much more reduced.

“Zouk” opens with a steel-pan intro with punchy percussion and symphonic keyboard washes. King Danskie’s fun vocals accent the fine percussion, while a few female vocals fill in the vocal range with a higher scale than King Danskie’s.  The symphonic keyboards provide a cinematic feel without losing Caribbean charm.  However, the vocals are weaker on this song, but the zouk musical style is highlighted from a mostly instrumental approach.

“Dadli Posse” begins with a few electronic vocal shouts and keyboard percussion sounds that are led by King Danskie and Fojo.  The keyboard washes and smooth vocals are accomplished by electronic manipulations of the vocals, which provide a danceable, rhythmic, and enjoyable sound overall.  The lyrical repetition and rhythmic similarities throughout make the song stand out as a stellar example of musicianship.

“On My Mind” opens with a bit of solo acoustic guitar that melds into King Danskie’s characteristic vocals with fine back-up accompaniment from female singers.  The percussion is tinny, swishy, and swanky.  Keyboard accompaniment with strings adds a cinematic presence that is also reflected on previous songs.  The island percussion and classy vocals reflects a maturity usually reserved for ballads.  King Danskie brings it all together with fine instrumentation and a cascade of vocals that come together to produce one of the best songs on the album.

“More Money” opens with a skittish keyboard beat and fast vocals with little in the way of other musical accompaniment.  The breakneck rhythms are punctuated by string-like or flute-like sounds characteristic of South Asia, but the song is uniquely Antiguan.  The urban, rap-like vocal displays are relatively fluid and unchanging throughout.  The highlight is the flute or string-like noises that reflect a slight Indo-Caribbean origin, while the lyrical-heavy wordplay is indicative of a type of rockso, which is a modern and urban form of calypso.

At any rate, King Danskie presents nineteen different hits from a calypso, zouk, and soca origin. The music reflects a good deal of instrumental variability and vocal changes that provide a party-like atmosphere without sacrificing musicianship or sound quality.  However, some of the songs are more instrumentally-favored, which deplete the vocal soundings a bit.  Still, Swankie Music sets the stage for posh calypso and soca music for a modern generation seeking something a little different. Fans of calypso, rockso, soca, zouk, and Caribbean urban music should listen to the honorable King Danskie.    

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

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