Review: Robby Davis – Resonator (Single)

The album art fits the sound: angular, vivid, psychedelic embossed with tidbits of clarity. Former UML student Robby Davis’ “Resonator” is as close as you’re gonna get to hearing colors today, champ. I do use the word ‘psychedelic’ reluctantly because it often implies a huge focus on processing and not-so-stellar musicianship or technique. I’m tellin’ ya right now, that’s not the case here.

The song itself starts as a tall sonic sandwich; funky but strange, pleasantly awkward, saturated with nasaly vocals, wonky guitar, whirly synth patches, and vibe lines with hectic melodic movement. The more you listen, the more disassociated you become with every box you thought you could put music into. About a minute in the singer goes on a tirade about a celebration or something? And then the irony makes itself known: the dynamic cools off. We’re grooving now, we’re going nice and easy.

To me, this is really classy songwriting. One should assume that talk of a celebration would escalate further. This song is weird to begin with, so mentioning a celebration and then delving into something relatively laid back and smooth gives it profound tension and release. Now the song opens up and sails for a while.

The production is just as interesting. The drums are tight and clean. The snare doesn’t have as much crack as it might in a live setting, but I’m very okay with that. Pushing the guitars back lets them keep a lush quality to them after the “celebration”. The vibes really do add to the song’s initial zany, anxious feeling. Despite being expertly played, skipping over intervals gives them an abnormal, jumpy aura, like a child mid-sugar rush. In a similar manner, the vocals are extremely annoying at the start. I am both appreciative and sickened by this artistic choice. But again, once the groove hits, the vocals mellow out and fit snugly in the mix. I dig the vocals here, too, because they’re appropriately not front and center. While I’m usually pretty outspoken about vocals at face-value being treated as the conduit between artist and listener, lightly pressing the vocals down allows more attention toward the lead parts that are coloring up the space in their stead. Plus it sounds good overall.

Don’t kid yourself – you’ve got the time, so check it out here and keep an ear to the ground for more from Robby Davis.

Luke Pelletier