Starkey – Ear Drums and Black Holes

Starkey – Ear Drums and Black Holes

If you haven’t gotten the chance to check out this video of Starkey building an entire track over the course of a two hour live show, please see it as soon as possible. With the help of Reso and the beautifully-voiced Anneka, the Philadelphia dubstep producer displays his skills in creating a notable song that many would require days to do. Seeing a master at work, you begin to appreciate just how inspiring the art of music really is. And when you see Starkey rushing to record a new beat, trying out a new melody, writing a chorus on the keyboard and all the while laughing and joking around, there’s a certain amount of endearment to it all.

Mentioning that January taping is evidence of what a true talent Starkey is but his second album, Ear Drums and Black Holes, is where we find out how honest desires, indisputable talent and an impeccable ear for melody can all add up to make perhaps, the best album of the year. Following his debut, Ephemeral Exhibits, was a difficult task for anyone to take on but what we have is an album that is already far more proficient, far more wide-ranging, far more memorable and entirely far more superb. Flashing his coined ‘street bass’ with elements of dub, heavy bass and everything else under the electronic umbrella, it’s an extraordinary album.

This isn’t your normal dubstep either, it’s quite like anything else others are trying to make. Starkey’s scope is extensive and grand, and not only are the melodies absolutely stimulating but they’re monstrous features make for a compelling listen. And the songs are all developed around a patient skeleton figure, with modifications and alterations coming through the windowpane like rays of light, ready to shine. Take the marvel of “Club Games,” a song that combines a synth melody with trembling bleeps and a back-paced beat that is always thumping. Texan MC Cerebral Vortex raps about topics that fit both a night at the club and a night at the strip bar, while Buddy Leezle’s vocals make for an engaging blend – it’s an incredible sound.

And speaking of guests, their contributions make for downright magical moments that will surely gain more consideration as time passes. Anneka’s lovely tones on “Stars” comes through like shooting stars in a sky filled with hopes and wishes and Starkey compliments her by starting off hushed and serene before unleashing his attack of massive beats; you can wish it never ended because it’s the perfect lullaby. And later on, on far more placid terms, Kiki Hitomi lends her pipes to the tribal bounce of “New Cities.” Though each song is separated by forty minutes of music, they go hand in hand in revealing affluent themes of confidence and looking forward. And it’s not as if the dirtiness of his game is gone because Starkey layers the clouds with a heavy bass on P-Money’s featured “Numb.”

One of the shocking aspects about the album is that you could essentially start anywhere and still feel as if you’re caught up in an entirely new world. One that features spiraling synths and even video game sounds, mixed with flashes of techno and IDM, and just before you can relax, he drops a wicked booming bass that shatters your ear drums. Even through its fifteen songs that are all at least three minutes long, you never want it to end because of how flawless it all is. The sequencing couldn’t have been any better; the songs are fleshed into meaty, deep, substantial pieces of work that require every second to fully digest. And after it’s all said and done, you have nothing else to do but to start it over and catch what you missed the first forty times you heard it.

Where else could one start with this album? Electronic music is frequently seen as one of the few genres that is still progressing and moving forward, and Ear Drums and Black Holes is a fine example of this. Diverse and dynamic, the music is out of this world with swelling moments of unforgettable melodies and harmonies, and those beats: they’re always booming in the back making sure you always know where they are. And in the end, attempting to capture in words what Starkey is doing is hard enough, it’s best to allow its music to win you over.

Planet Mu