Are you ready for music that takes dystopic soundscapes along with analogue and digital devices and blends it into a deliciously driving mix? That’s one way of talking about the sound of Shanghai Beach – the solo project of New York based Steven Salazar. The Contamination EP is out this 31st August on AnalogueTrash – and Louder Than War presents the premiere of the ‘Re-Animator’ video.
Presenting an array of electronic sound smashed together with synthpop and more than a hint of Sci Fi inspiration, ‘Contamination’ is a darkly alluring EP. It’s also daring, as here Salazar brings together often disparate, classic and contemporary technology, leading to slickly layered, stunningly powerful music.
A key feature of each song structure is not just the synth-led distinctness, but Salazar’s deep and arresting vocal power. This is clearly evident on the EP’s opening track ‘Plathskulll’ – insistent beats and ethereal keys building mood, before Salazar’s voice enters with additional dark depth. Every aspect of instrumentation appears co-ordinated with a fine-tuning which allows the combination to rise and resonate. The way he wields the word ‘Remember’, holds an arresting quality in particular.
Then the EP repowers up with ‘Re-Animator’ – an interesting track creating an intriguing soundscape of its own, composed of a lush layer work of synths, stirring beats, analogue and digital – brought out buzzing in the eardrums. ‘Re-Animator’ grows with a groove all of its own, with Salazar’s signature deep vocals dredging mood and majesty further into the music. The video volumizes this – as we are sure you will agree on watching.
But how does the darkness continue? ‘Dark City’ has more fast-flung drive than the previous track, a fretwork of animated beats, before layers of fizz and a full vocal open out in a way which paints a powerful, intense view of a cityscape. ‘Just look away/ the ash builds on the tray’ – here the imagery is intense, the language lavish. Imagine a JG Ballard storyline set to tune.
A surprise of the EP is indeed the final track ‘Buck Rogers’, which begins minimally with a pulse… before hi-hat intensity hits in and danceable, dark layers develop. The following blend of high synths and keys is a well-thought combination, taking the texture of the track to a new listening level. ‘Buck Rogers’’ more pared-back sound allows Salazar’s vocals to stand out as he duets with backing voices, tending to themes of loss and realisation. Take the likes of ‘You lost this time’ in a profound line: this is a defiant, distinct finale.
Louder Than War’s Emily Oldfield spoke to Steven Salazar, the man behind Shanghai Beach and the Contamination EP, to find out more:
1) Hello Steven! Was there a particular source of inspiration behind the ‘Contamination’ EP? Why did you pick this title and how does it differ from your previous work?
“Each track is inspired by a specific life event that impacted me negatively. Contaminated me if you will. That’s where the title Contamination came from. For this EP, I decided to use a hybrid of analogue and digital because of my ever-growing fascination with early digital sampling synths. Deciding to mix them both together felt comfortable in a way my previous work didn’t.”
2)Tell us about some of your influences.
“Around the time I was writing Contamination, I was really into Boy Harsher, High Functioning Flesh, and a lot of Ministry’s first record, With Symphony. Also a big part of the influence came from my friend, Christian Ellsworth. He introduced me to a lot of new artists and helped with countless hours of jamming.”
3)Your music blends the old and new – analogue together with modern technology. Why this approach?
“I felt with analogue, I didn’t have all the control I wanted to have a great work flow. Once I started doing more research and technology got better, I was able to craft something that I felt gave me progress instead of frustration using the mix of old and new technology. There is so much new and exciting gear that’s come out in the last few years that just solved my problems.”
4)What was the most rewarding aspect of working on the EP?
“Honestly, that I finished it. There were a lot of surprises and twists and turns along the way.”
5)Is there a particular impact you would like your music to have?
“I wouldn’t really say that I write music with the impact of others in mind. I more make music that I enjoy and really hope that others will as well.”
The EP is officially released on the 31st of August via AnalogueTrash. It will be available digitally on all major download and streaming services.