DJ Dechard - 'Balloons EP'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we delve into an Italian music producer who assumes the moniker of Dechard. The man describes his vibe as one that is ‘vintage, yet also modern,' and he toys with modular sounds and unique arrangements. Last year, he dropped ‘Balloons,’ a six track EP that digs into explorations through progressive house tactics and electronica. How does the collection stack up? Let’s check it out.

Now for the purposes of this review, I’m to be checking out the shortened version of the record, a “continuous mix” of all half dozen tracks combined. Typically, I loathe this set up. It discourages the listener from exploring the material in full and doesn’t offer a particularly deep insight into anything of the ground it attempts to cover. Dechard has, however, completely flipped my typical discouragement of this promotional style. The continual mix of ‘Balloons’ is so well done, you could pass it off as one piece of music rather than a sample of six pieces. That’s absolutely incredible. In fact, I had some difficulty discerning where tracks started and ended, and thus, I’m going to utilize some time markers to explain my musings in this review. Note - these markers only apply to the 7:30 continual mix of ‘Balloons.’

The first two minutes of the mix, which I assume consist mostly of the tune ‘We’re Not Alone’ are dynamically compelling. I love the soundscape Dechard has created and his innovative use of layered synthesizers and strong composition has resulted in his release being one of the most effective instrumental electronic pieces of the past year. The song that explodes around 2:40 is especially exciting as well, creating an atmosphere that’s borderline anthemic. This is the kind of dance music that has substance to its instrumentation - I love that.

Some of the more intricate pieces of the puzzle, for example, the song that starts around 3:50 are very telling in regard to the sonic landscapes ‘Balloons’ explores. That track is an excursion through cinematic instrumentals. My only quip is the bass line that pops up around 4:30 - The creativity is somewhat lost in this endeavor, and the song turns into a blurring, pounding dance piece without any direction or motivation. The final minute and a half of the mix flirts with this problem as well, but some rather unique synth usage keeps the sound mostly fresh.

‘Balloons’ is a record I’d delve deeper into as a result of this continuous mix, which can be found below. It leaves some to be desired on the latter pieces of the mix, but for the most part, it’s a strong indication of a powerful record.