The Soul/Funk Reviver: Gramatik’s The Age of Reason Album Review
Slovenian Brooklynite Denis Jasarevic, a.k.a. Gramatik, has held us in his grip with his tireless artistry in the electronic music scene since his debut performance in 2009. From his advocacy for a free and open Internet to the creation of his own record label, Lowtemp, this past year, Gramatik’s passion shines through in every medium he tackles. On principle, Gramatik always has given and will continue to give his music away for free. He’s not afraid to embrace an ever-growing variety of influences while maintaining his helm at the forefront of electronic music, a delight for those of us who are nostalgic for a funkier, more soulful time.
From some of his earliest available music, which isolates simple beats and creates infectious grooves, to his sampling of multiple pieces of a single Quincy Jones song to form multiple, complex tracks, to his release of “Bluestep” last winter (the album version for those of you who have been playing this song on repeat for almost a year), which weaves blues and dubstep seamlessly together, he has yet to slow down creatively. With The Age of Reason, Denis shows us that even genres we might not love, or ones we have pinned to certain limitations within our own minds, can be utilized in interesting, fresh, and dynamic ways to create beautiful hybrids of old school and new age music that make for amazing original tracks.
The opening cut, “Brave Men (feat. Eskobars),” eases us into the album, with the beginning staying mainly in the chill funk territory with hints of trip-hop. Half way through the track, Gramatik shakes it up with a taste of what’s to come, mixing full-on dubstep, trip-hop, funk, and soul together as one. It’s reminiscent of both Beats & Pieces, Vol. 1 and #digitalfreedom, albums with stark differences: the former being more downtempo and soulful, and the latter, more intense and dubstep-heavy with R&B and funk bits. These albums have met somewhere in the middle in just the first track, and Gramatik develops this intermix all the way through the record.
It’s difficult to resist what follows. Eric Krasno immediately kicks in on the guitar, playing warm, bluesy riffs while Gramatik lays down the hip-hop/funk beat in “Torture.” Why this collaboration hasn’t happened sooner is a mystery because Kraz and Denis together are pure magic. Next up is “Bluestep,” which was released in February 2013, about a week after the announcement of Lowtemp and Gramatik’s forthcoming album. I can’t get enough of this track, and it doesn’t seem to wear out as the number of plays grows. If anyone could make me love a dubstep track, it’s Denis Jasarevic. His seamless integration of something as pure and beautiful as the blues with something as harsh, intense, and polarizing as dubstep is enthralling, and, if you’re like me, leads you to think twice about stereotyping genres.
“[The album was] inspired by a stand-up segment by comedian George Carlin. He made a joke on the fact that he was Catholic until he reached the age of reason. I also firmly believe that there comes a time in a human life when you reach the so-called ‘age of reason’ and realize that there are so many irrational beliefs, shameless contradictions and illogical restrictions inflicted upon society for various malicious reasons, things that were deliberately designed to keep us in line and prevent us from reaching our full potential as a species. Some people reach it sooner, others later, but a majority unfortunately never do. [Through my music] I’d like to guide more people to reach the age of reason sooner. Maybe. Or, hopefully at least unite the ones that feel the same way.” Source: BitTorrent
Gramatik has fearlessly expanded his repertoire of influences, revealing his growth as an artist and his disregard for labels and boundaries in the creation of music. On The Age of Reason, he is an agent of social change as much as our guide through a progressive, sonic journey of past, present, and future sounds. Gramatik continues to be an artist to watch because he is constantly moving forward and honing his craft. The Age of Reason will remain a top album release of 2014, and this year is sure to be the best yet for Gramatik. No doubts here.