ArvSan – Beyond Recognition

 ArvSan – Beyond Recognition

ArvSan – Beyond Recognition – EP Review

Let’s get this year goin’ y’all…I’m looking forward to an incredible 2023 and I hope you all are too.

ArvSan definitely has plenty of reasons to look forward to this year, given that he finished the last one off on such a high note with the release of his Beyond Recognition EP.  From what I can tell according to what I see online, it looks like he’s been droppin’ single tracks onto the net for the past year or so, but Beyond Recognition would technically serve as his debut record…which is a great accomplishment to finish off a year filled with music and propel the man into the next one with fully inspired momentum.

In many ways, if you asked me what Beyond Recognition is all about and the purpose it serves, I’d tell ya that it’s practically written for one specific person to hear more than the rest of us.  I don’t have any real evidence to support that beyond what I’m hearing and interpreting…but there’s a reason I do what I do.  I tend to call things as I hear’em, and this whole lineup speaks volumes on behalf of fresh heartbreak & sincere pain still being sorted out…”suffering” that you can hear right away on the opening track “Back It Up.”  As many of you out there already know, turning personal tragedy into some kind of art is definitely an effective way to process the situations we live through…and that’s a lot of what it’s like to listen to this EP all around…it audibly sounds like ArvSan is processing his thoughts, feelings, and emotions in real-time.  R&B is fairly known to dig into this kind of material…so don’t get me wrong, it’s very possible that this could be more generic than it is specific…but that being said, lines like “I know when you’re gonna hear this song, even though you hate me right now, you’re gonna know…” sure makes it sound like there’s one person overall that ArvSan really wants to hear this record.  There ain’t nothing wrong with that exactly…just keep in mind, if that’s the case, we can get caught up in that as artists and forget how many other people are listening.  Do we cater to the one person we want to hear it all, or to the masses out there?  There’s no right or wrong answer to that…sometimes you have to make a record like Beyond Recognition and deal with a whole bunch of feelings out loud if you’re ever planning on making another – make sense?  There’s no easy way around emotional turmoil…’the only way out is through,’ as they say.  If it’s fictional, ArvSan makes you believe it…and if it’s based on his own real-life experiences, then you feel it…one way or the other, he starts off the EP with some impressively effective songwriting.

The dude’s got a real gift for production, which is something you could hear in the opening track for sure, but really start to appreciate when you hear the stunning clarity and atmosphere combined on a track like “Way Up” to follow.  Part of me thinks that ArvSan is still searching for the material to match his level of skill behind the studio boards to a degree…I wouldn’t go as far as to say that “Way Up” is entirely without hooks – it has’em, but I’d be the first to admit he’s gonna need to make’em stronger if he wants his songs to be the most memorable aspect of what he brings to the game.  The performance he gives is strong…the melody he’s rockin’ with on the mic works…the details in the atmosphere of the song are stellar too…there are lots of positives, but he’s missing a bit of that potential reason to return is all.  I don’t think there are too many of us that would question what we hear – we’ll all enjoy it more or less…it’s just whether or not there’s quite enough to make us actively seek it out to come back to it – make sense?  I really like the way he rolls through the main vocal hooks with the fluidity and melody he creates…that’s a genuine positive…and I really liked the way he creates the finale of this track through flexing the dynamics of the tempo & whatnot, even though it’s a move he’ll use again in another cut on this EP as well.  On a longer record, you might not notice something like that…but in five tracks that probably don’t even reach the fifteen-minute mark overall, we notice things like something as specific as that down-tempo shift occurring twice, which you’ll hear again later on in the lineup on “Night Crawls.”

“Homicide” is a smartly designed track in the sense that you can really hear that cross-cultural vibe to it, in addition to the crossover potential of an artist like ArvSan in general.  He’s put himself in a good position for the future in the sense that R&B/Soul is definitely where the guy belongs…he’s got a great singing voice, and there is a tangible uniqueness to his ideas that should help him establish his name out there in this scene we share.  I still think there’s some work to be done in terms of what’s going to make him memorable…but no one out there should automatically assume that any artist or band would be lucky enough to stumble upon that aspect of their music on the inside of their first year…it can take a whole lot longer than that, and does in the majority of cases.  Right now, while there’s no doubt that ArvSan’s laidback sound & chilled-out vibes are setting the stage for the kind of music he wants to make, I’d be most concerned about whether or not he’s done enough to get people excited and bring them in to listen, you know what I mean?  From a technical standpoint, his songs sound spectacular with the details he’s added to’em through the production – but from a raw material standpoint, ArvSan is so entirely laidback in the way he performs, that it could potentially cost him in the court of public opinion.  You’d look at listening to a record like Beyond Recognition as very mood-dependent…which isn’t always a bad thing whatsoever, just more specific is all.  Like, you’d know exactly when you wanted to listen to a lineup of songs like this, and you’d also understand that it’s not gonna be that EP that suits your mood every single day.  Like I said, that’s not a bad thing at all really – there’s probably only a modest handful of albums we can all point to in our lives that would appeal to us day-in and day-out…most of what we listen to, we seek out for a specific reason, mood, or moment we’re in…it’ll be the same for ArvSan here.

As far as the most tangible hooks go, I’d probably say “Night Crawls” is the single out of this particular lineup of tracks for ArvSan this time around.  If I’m being real with ya…I think there are a few different issues with this cut, but the hooks ain’t one of’em…the hooks work, and all-in-all, even with a couple of questionable moments in it, “Night Crawls” still sounds like the safest bet to me in terms of what track ArvSan would wanna put out there to entice the people into listening.  In my personal opinion, he’s shown us stronger performances in the way he sings the first three tracks, but the material he’s workin’ with is stronger on this cut overall.  I’m not quite sure what creates the variation in the vocals this time around…it could actually be a warble in his technique that does it, it could also potentially be a setting on effects or in the production that could cause his voice to go in & out of the melodic spots he wants to be in…only he’s going to know the answer to that for sure.  For the most part, he’s on target – and there’s a lot of natural appeal to ArvSan’s voice in general, found throughout this whole lineup.  I like the use of the echo effect for sure, I’ve got no issues with that…it’s more like spots around the 1:02 when his voice is shifting downwards in tone…which is what makes me believe it’s likely a situation with an auto-tuner of some kind in the background perhaps.  I’ll admit…it’d be weird if it is…usually that’s a much more noticeable element in songs when we hear it, but it could still be present, even if we don’t notice it as much.  Whether it’s that, or his natural technique that fluctuates his vocals, it’s something to be mindful of…we’ll accept a whole lot as listeners, but melody wide of the mark becomes one of the toughest things to pull off when your vocals are the main aspect of what you do as an artist, you feel me?   All-in-all, I think ArvSan just needs to take that deep breath, summon that confidence, believe in his abilities, and give it everything he’s got…that’s what is going to lead him to victory.  Because there’s no doubt that he can sing – I just feel like he’s got more than he’s showing us on “Night Crawls,” even though I’d still consider this to be one of the record’s better songs.  I love what he does at the end of it when shifting tempos and trying something new for the finale…that was the cherry on top if I’m being real with ya.  This track already had plenty of reasons to listen, but that last move was one of the most impressive…that’s where you hear ArvSan willing to experiment & be seriously innovative with his craft.

One of my favorite song-titles that I’ve ever seen finishes off the Beyond Recognition EP – it’s called “:(:” – how awesome is that!?!  To me, that’s brilliantly creative, and something I’m surprised I actually haven’t seen before somewhere else.  I felt like it symbolized perspective…some people are gonna see the frowny-face first, and some of us will see the happy face right away…and truthfully, whichever it is that you notice the quickest, probably says more about you subliminally than you might even realize.  It’s definitely one of ArvSan’s strongest performances on a melodic/tone-level though…he’s right on target here, and any of the issues I cited when listening to “Night Crawls” have been completely resolved on this last track.  He’s airing out that dirty laundry on this track and gettin’ some stuff off his chest on “:(:” – which are fairly classic aspects of R&B in the modern-day era.  Sometimes we focus on the good times, sometimes the bad…hence the title you see on this track.  ArvSan’s clearly struggling a bit in terms of the whole life/love thing…but he’s excelling in terms of the depth the subject gives this last track on his debut EP.  As with many of you out there, confusion and a lil’ bit of pain can quite often end up generating a really compelling song, which I’d argue that’s what he’s got with “:(:” overall.  I think he could benefit by giving the samples a bit more of a presence within the song…I still think that ArvSan needs to really find a way to accentuate his main hooks and give them more a vibrant spark in his material…but I can hear that he’s already well on his way to establishing his identity and a signature sound of his own.  After several spins through the Beyond Recognition EP, I know I could pick him out of a lineup blindfolded…and the value in that is priceless, don’t get me wrong – that’s a huge positive.  Once he connects all that to the strength of his material, and gives us more of a reason to return, I think ArvSan will be on totally solid ground & able to move forward with his music at a much more rapid pace.  Right now he’s clearly on the early-side of his career…he’s testing the waters, experimenting, and learning about what he can do & what he’s capable of – and as long as he keeps at it, he’ll be in good shape.  No one says you gotta have everything figured out on that very first record…and as many of you regular readers know, I think you’re all better off if you don’t.  Life as an artist is all about evolution and growth…embrace it…don’t be afraid to try something new, don’t be afraid to make mistakes – get involved in your craft on every level, learn from what you do, and push yourself to that next-level ahead.  ArvSan’s got a great start goin’ on so far…and with time & experience, he’ll get to where he wants to go.

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