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Spotlight Album: ‘Not For Public Consumption’ – Dr Optimiser

jtpao 05/02/2024

Folk N Rock
Spotlight Album: ‘Not For Public Consumption’ – Dr Optimiser

Though this marks the fourth studio album release by this UK-based artist, Dr. Optimiser was a completely new discovery for me. As it turns out, I’ve become a pretty big fan after getting into ‘Not for Public Consumption’. It’s always a great experience, especially as a music journalist inundated with submissions, to stumble upon something truly awesome. As the weekend approaches, I can confidently say this album will be on repeat for quite some time.

The album launches with “Evolution,” a wow, this is a track committed to creating a unique environment. It opens with a thumping, otherworldly tone – imagine a deep resonance layered with an almost mechanical hum. This otherworldly foundation is punctuated by hints of static, adding to a sense of disorientation that’s lightly unsettling. As if you are alone, somewhere out their in the universe.

Laser-like chimes pierce through, their sharp clarity contrasting beautifully with the swirling sonic depths. Soon after, smooth synth melodies emerge, intertwining with the existing sounds. This new layer brings a touch of warmth, a melodic thread to cling to amidst the otherworldly backdrop. Around the 1:20 mark, a sharp, percussion element enters the mix. Yet, even with this rhythmic shift, the track never loses its distinctive atmosphere.

“Evolution” is like a construction of another world. This track signals that the album is going to be all about immersing you, though I found in the later half, it does, so much more. A great opener.

“Doc Brown’s High Voltage Man,” the album’s second track, is a personal favorite. It bursts in with a playful, almost vintage tone, transporting you back to a bygone era of almost I’d say, the 70s. But this nostalgic trip takes a turn with a surge of electronic energy. The classic electric-buzz sound isn’t shy, it crackles and pops with a really strong vibrancy.

Nestled beneath this electrifying surface is a funky undercurrent, a groovy little beat that throws it back to the 70s that I was talking about. Throughout the track, bursts of synthwork weave in and out, adding a what is almost like a ‘triumphant’ layer that feels both powerful and fun. Imagine a wave of euphoria cresting over a foundation of infectious grooves. That’s what this is.

“Perceptions” has an undeniable charm, a nostalgic pull that feel just a little mysterious. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly why it draws you in, but there’s something undeniably familiar yet fresh about its sound. The track channels a vintage Madonna vibe – a playful, almost innocent take on that classic 90s pop sound, complete with a hint of her signature danceable energy. I’m mostly talking about her early 90’s work. There’s also an undercurrent of old-school hip-hop in the beats, a steady rhythmic pulse that adds an air of effortless cool.

This blend of influences might seem strange at first, but it sounds amazing here. The nostalgia isn’t a cheap imitation of the past; it’s more like a warm, comforting echo wrapped up in a distinctly modern package. As a matter of fact, I’m not even really sure if that’s what Dr Optimiser was going for, but I love it. You can’t help but feel a connection to a simpler time in music history, even while recognizing that this is something entirely new. It’s a sound that feels both timeless and timely, and what I’ve always loved are records that mix together the past and present in a way that feels fresh and exciting. Even if it is completely unintentional.

The track’s charm is really enhanced by its subtle complexity. On the surface, it’s a catchy, carefree pop song. But there’s a subtle depth to the music, a hint of something more melancholic lurking beneath the mix. It’s the kind of song that reveals itself slowly, rewarding repeat listens with new discoveries.

Now this album certainly doesn’t skimp on content! With sixteen tracks and the shortest clocking in at around a minute and a half, it is a substantial listening experience. The majority of the tracks stretch into the three and a half to four-minute range, offering ample time for exploration and development.

It’s interesting that your favorite tracks will shift depending on your mood and time of day. This speaks to the album’s potential for offering something different with every listen. However, one track that seems to stand out consistently for you is “White Moon.” It will be fascinating to delve deeper into what makes this track so enduring and adaptable to your changing moods.

With so much great content here, I find myself changing which track I like best. The album’s potential for offering something different with every listen. However, one track that seems to stand out consistently for me is “White Moon.”

This track stands out with its surprising variety and unique flavor. It kicks off with whimsical, almost 8-bit tones, creating a playful melody that evokes a carefree, surf-rock vibe. There’s a great retro feel to it, it’s almost like it’s a subtle nod to the golden era of rock and roll. The addition of a chirping-like tone on top of this melody creates a cool duality, adding a touch of brightness to the nostalgic rock and roll mood.

Just past the one-minute mark, percussive elements start to come in. This percussive groove is complemented by the arrival of new synth textures, constantly building and evolving the track’s sound without losing its core identity. There’s a moment where an overlaying percussion element intensifies, driving up the rhythm while the other elements maintain their original pace. This creates a really cool contrast that keeps the track dynamic.

“Turn Around,” the album’s 11th track, marks a noticeable shift and adds a brand new dimension to the experience (pun totally intended). This is where things really start to get interesting, as the album introduces vocal elements with a catchy, clap-along melody backed by smooth, vocals. It has a genuine pop sensibility, complete with those infectious hooks that get stuck in your head. Yet, the combination of the clapping rhythm and the overall instrumentation lends itself beautifully to a folktronica interpretation.

“After the Shadow Fades” introduces a stunning towards a piano-centric focus. This track stands out as a beautiful, intimate entry into the album’s vast sound. If you’re a fan of jazz or other piano-based genres, this one will likely earn a solid spot in your regular rotation. I often listen to piano music in the background of my home, so this one is going on that playlist for sure. There’s a warmth quality to this piece, making it the perfect choice for a relaxing background mood.

“Moments of Despair” continues the piano-driven theme, but dives into a darker, more contemplative emotional space. The focus on the deep tones of the piano create like this sense of melancholy. The track takes on an almost mournful quality, an exploration of deeper emotions. This shift in atmosphere is further amplified by the introduction of strings, their rich sound layering an additional element of sorrow onto the arrangement.

Surprisingly, a light, almost bongo-like percussion enters the mix. This unexpected rhythmic element makes its way through the track without overpowering the established mood. Instead, it complements the piano’s somber notes, adding a subtle pulse to the otherwise contemplative atmosphere. The addition of delicate melodies and carefully crafted key work gives the track a sense of fragile beauty.

“Homesick Mermaid” offers a great close to the album. There’s almost theatrical element to this track which I loved. The background textures are very striking, with what I can describe as a “siren’s cry.” This atmospheric approach is strong; it has the ability to conjure up specific imagery in my minds eye. I know it’s a cliche to say that music can sometimes take you to another place, but that’s exactly what this song did for me. The watery, ethereal mood it evokes highlights the power of this track which transports me to this other place.

‘Not for Public Consumption’ by Dr. Optimiser delivers a truly fantastic listening experience. I found the entire album incredibly enjoyable, with moments of both thrilling complexity and effortless beauty. It’s perfect for both relaxed listening and sparking those deeper, emotional responses. However, this album’s greatest strength lies in its abundance of unique and diverse content.

I mean, even with all of its sonic explorations, the album maintains a remarkable sense of cohesion. Each track feels perfectly placed, and shows off Dr. Optimiser’s incredible versatility. Their mastery shines through in both the electronic elements and the piano-driven pieces, the purely instrumental tracks and those featuring vocals. This was a fantastic discovery for me, and I’m already eager to dive deeper into his discography. ‘Not for Public Consumption’ stands as a phenomenal album.

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