A great thing about Electronic music is how unlimited it can be. it‘s willing to go as far as you are willing to push it. Your mind is the only barrier.
‘Risk and Reward’ is a concept album (maybe?) from Dale De Souza, AKA Havoc Osiris. The Plano, Texas native is set to release a mind-boggling 25 albums to commemorate his 31st birthday and to showcase his creative progress, and this is one of them. Set as the soundtrack for a novel that’s set in a dystopian power-hungry future, full of ethical dilemmas, political corruption, and characters with nothing to lose.
The music is striking here. Each track seems to have a unique thing to set it apart. Things that range from the mundane to the stunning, from the darkest to the lightest. Things that guarantee that each piece on the album is set to find its audience.
Starting things off with ‘Welcome to The Stage’. A trippy, off-putting number. Sporting a throbbing synth bass riff and off-time robotic leads for a hook, and full lush sections full of rich little solos for what we can call verses. Adding both to create a proggy feeling that’s equally fun, engaging, and accessible. Following that is ‘Two Hours’. Again, the formula follows. Split into 2 sections. Section A is quite the emotive one, Heavy tremolo on the synths and vast sampled drum hits with massive reverb allow this section to grow to gigantic proportions. Contrasted by the tinny section B, featuring thin-sounding instruments and a sparse beat. ‘Momentum of Clarity’ is probably going to be divisive. With “middle eastern” beats that fall a little short of the mark and fail to prove an addition to sound, and a hectic solo that toys with dissonance. The main motif, though, is where all the attention will go. A stabby lead line with a mysterious sound and a structured layer of metallic pads underneath create a truly driving and powerful section.
‘Heavy Rain’ does a great job of sounding just like that… heavy rain. With rich, busy, buzzing sections that do work beautifully towards creating the duality between an inconvenient and disruptive rainstorm, and experiencing a gentle shower from the warmth of home. ‘Runaway’ is an alluring slow-burner. Not featuring any rapid-fire sections, opting instead to remain chill and charming, with jazzy keys solos and a consistent bass line. ‘Intel’, while not bringing anything new to the table, is endlessly pleasant. With (almost) acoustic-sounding bass, that’s rough and cool, a chirpy, light lead that gently flutters, and quirky interludes, all on top of a clangy, off-center drum beat. ‘Dawn’ is perhaps the first song to fall a little flat. The different sections fail to add momentum to carry the song’s hefty length of five and a half minutes, sounding unintentionally minimal and a little too empty for its own good. ‘Catch – 22’ takes us back to exciting sounds. Oriental sounds and melodies work beautifully against a Soul-inspired section, all expertly put together with wonderfully engaging production, but could have benefited from being a minute or so shorter.
The heavy ‘Wherewithal’ is next. Quick-paced, full of powerful sounding instruments and energetic, off-kilter drums that jitter all over the different sections, and a crazy tonal acrobatic that occurs in the middle. But yet again… could have been a more healthy meal if it was a minute shorter. Next up is ‘Amandla’. Barely escaping being labeled a filler, it has very little to show compared to all that came before except for a charming-sounding keyboard and an odd-time feel that keeps things feeling fresh. ‘A Long Way Home Is Still a Way Home’ is another quick rhythmically intricate tune that certainly puts to mind Radiohead’s King of Limbs. The penultimate ‘Orders’ is an alluring, luxurious sound. Full of swarming bass, buzzing synths, and a droning that pulls you far in. Reaching the end with the titular track, full of trademark whacky rhythms, that’s while entertaining and attention-grabbing, doesn’t quite add anything new to the table.
It’s crazy what Dale De Souza is able to craft from a simple formula such as the one that persists all over the songs of this album. The main motif, broken by one or multiple contrasting sections, in 4/4 time, with a twist. He’s able to create 13 songs, to compose one of 23 albums, to be released in a single year! Electronica may need nothing more than a truly creative mind, and Havoc Osiris, here, is as creative as they ever come.