Conrad Van Orton – “Alive and Kicking” EP (Emerald) [March 29, 2024]

Conrad Van Orton, aka Andrea Zanchetta, appears on Remco Beekwilder’s Emerald—a label that has featured a lot of the label owner’s own work but has also featured the likes of Nur Jaber, Chontane, Paul Ritch, and also previously Conrad Van Orton.

This is the first full-length EP from Conrad Van Orton for the Emerald label, and it gives the chance for the artist to really shine. What stands out the most on this “Alive and Kicking” EP is the cleanliness of the parts, the well-built interactions, and the deeply well-intended synthesis and filtering. There are a lot of great choices when it comes to conveying energy and contrasting it with calmness, such as on the track “Overcloud”.

This energy also can be heard on “Powernap,” where there’s a gliding synth that gives the rough edges a certain softness and ease within your heart. It’s a welcoming feeling, while the busy nature of the track gives your conscious mind something to chew on while your subconscious mind drifts away. “Use It Wisely” also takes this concept and a chorded approach that feels welcoming and provides some hallucinatory talking within the shaker and hat combinations.

On both the title track and “Wishful Thinking”, there’s heavy groove and frenetic tribalism ideas, with only using synths for interstitial tension building elements on “Wishful Thinking.” Classic 1-bar synth tumbling really sets up the pace for the intense and crunchy environment around it on the title track. The 2 tracks together provide a strong and tight support as bookends for a great EP that you’re going to want to listen to everywhere. Indeed, if the EP gets picked up by some major players, you’re sure to hear it in DJ sets everywhere.

-Sean Ocean

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