The Last Mixed Tape reviews Content, the brand new extended play from alternative electronic artist Participant.
There’s a degree of trust involved when listening to Participant’s sophomore E.P. Content. We need to feel that he can lead us through the brooding atmosphere of the record and out the other end unscathed, since we could become easily lost within its slow-burning soundscape. And it’s to the artist credit that he does so with relative ease.
Content is a far bolder statement from Participant in comparison to his debut Bit Slow. The record is cast in great shadowy grainy textures that lay within the undercurrent, pulling us under like a great tide of sound. Edged by lo-fi leanings, the E.P. has a close-mic feel that plays with an unyielding intimacy. You are left alone with the music.
What stops Content from becoming an isolating listen is the juxtaposition of Participant’s soft-spoken vocal performance. While the backdrop fizzes with echoing soundbites, the vocal tip-toes above it and never feels overcome by the vastness of the production itself. Songs like ‘You Better’ benefit from this, as a sense of aspect and distance it given to each element.
This light and dark finds it’s home most effectively in ‘A Change’. Sweeping harmonics suddenly turn into crashes of percussion, found-sound clips appear then recede and tense howls move in and out of focus as Participant sings ‘Through gritted teeth I make amends’. Further developing the hidden depths of Content itself.
Content is the sound of an artist making choices. The record has a definite concept behind it and therefore feels more cohesive and stylized than anything we’ve heard from Participant before. With his second outing Participant has delivered something that progresses his sound and stands on its own two feet. A bold piece, from a very exciting artist.
Content by Participant is out now.