Dancehall, Reggae, Soca and more explodes on 'Apocalypse Soon' Image

by Jordan Delahaye

The interstellar war raging between Major Lazer and the incorrigible fiend General Rubbish, has been ravaging the music scene for some time now. Whether urban culture's favourite hero will be able to stop the twisted tyrant only time will tell, but the recently released EP titled Apocalypse Soon suggests that time is of the essence as the battle seems to be approaching the climax.

The Major Lazer character was recently brought to life in the "Scare Me" music video which features Terry Crews as the hero and Lauren London as his right-hand-woman, Knife Fight. The rumour mills have also been grinding with talks of a Major Lazer cartoon to hit either Cartoon Network or Adult Swim. The plot behind the storyline for the character has been thickening, but where the story is headed is up for speculation. Here's the story so far: Major Lazer has been reawakened from his cryogenic sleep to stop his former superior, General Rubbish and free the universe from his diabolical clutch. Where Apocalypse Soon falls in the storyline is yet to be revealed but the EP builds anticipation for whatever crazy antics is to come next.

That the maestros over at the Major Lazer camp have delivered yet another beat-heavy number in their EDM opus is no surprise, but the EP is interesting in that it heralds a fresh approach to the neo-dub/electro-dancehall sound that Major Lazer has been boosting. That dancehall/reggae element that brought them widespread acclaim just last year with Free the Universe is still present in Apocalypse Soon, but with more eclectic variations.

The EP opens with "Aerosol Can" which features hip hop's happiest musician/producer, Pharrell Williams. Here Major Lazer takes the simple and familiar rattling of the small ball inside an aerosol can and is able to build an irresistible dance beat around it. The track sounds like nothing you've ever heard and Williams brings his own smooth flow to the mix. The female backing vocals featured on the track provides an interesting juxtaposition with Williams' rapping that seems to work.

The "Aerosol Can" remix contest on Beat Port has just ended and fans are now engaged in voting for their favourite take on the track.

A noted aspect of the Free the Universe album was the cadre of hardcore Jamaican dancehall acts that Major Lazer featured on the album interspersed with musicians from various other genres like Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig with his indie rock sound and Santigold with her alternative guns. Sean Paul and RDX are the two dancehall acts featured on Apocalypse Soon only RDX is featured along with Moska in an instrumental collaboration - "Lose Yourself".

"Lose Yourself" starts off with a simple drum beat which is built on and stripped down only to be built on again, each time introducing a subtle change. "Come on to Me" features Sean Paul like you've never heard him before as the musician delivers a hard-edged performance which contrasts his usually r&b infused, crossover sound. The track of course features another sensational dance beat from Major Lazer but could have used some more of Sean Paul's unique vocal energy.

Ever wondered what a ukulele would sound like on a soca track fused with reggae? Major Lazer did and the result is a bold sound which gives Machel Montano's amped performance a major jolt. The track, which bears the title "Sound Bang", samples Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam" and is one of the most creative undertakings by Major Lazer so far. It is tracks like "Sound Bang" which has fans on the edge of their seats wondering what Diplo and his gang of musical masterminds will come up with next. The song also seems to be an ode to big island sounds as the ukulele adds a refreshing Hawaiian breeze to the Caribbean's reggae and soca.

The EP ends with a splash of Latin flavour by Mr. Fox. The track, "Dale Asi", features the same urban appeal Major Lazer has perfected, this time with a reggaeton vibe. The music incorporates what sounds like Indian flute music which definitely adds to the song's allure.

Major Lazer has always sought to transcend cultural borders with dancehall music as its platform while still drawing influence from various genres and pop culture. Apocalypse Soon continues this trend with an even more eclectic creative vision, all the while promoting the seedy underbelly of the urban music terrain. There are so many different elements working together in harmony on Apocalypse Soon that it is hard to highlight any one lead sound. Each listen provides new perspective on the creative gears at work in the EP, which breeds a sense of appreciation for the bold compilation and for Major Lazer in their attempt to redefine Caribbean music.

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