Shade Cobain - TEARS | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Album review: TEARS, Shade Cobain

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Cover artwork for Shade Cobain's TEARS

After DiViNe SeVeN’s INTROSPECT LP last week, I am catching up with another release I have been meaning to tell you about for ages. Shade Cobain, who is among my favourite producers, dropped his latest project TEARS on August 15th, in collaboration with JiLLz Worth’s Them Fighting Words and the album is, once again, a must-have. Big shout out to iNanz for yet another amazing artwork. Now, let me tell you why you need some “TEARS” in your life…

Shade Cobain describes his latest album as “the musical memoir of a 365 day grind” and once again puts a lot of himself into the music, creating a very personal, yet universal project. As he presents different steps and phases in this constant struggle that life is, including highs and lows, he touches upon an element that is still quite taboo in our society. Indeed, it is quite rare to hear people admit to crying or see them do it openly. Those tears may be due to anger, frustration, sadness or even joy and you can feel all of those emotions in the music, as the producer once more found the perfect samples and blending of instruments to reflect what was on his mind and heart. I guess this is me being too sensitive and emotional again, but I did cry when I first listened to the project.
As usual, a great importance is given to drums, which are hard-hitting and will most probably give you a serious head-nod but we can also find a wide variety of influences and genres, giving TEARS a more global reach and making it more than a hip-hop project. Another of Shade Cobain’s trademarks is present here, that is the relevance of the titles, which always emphasise the feeling expressed in the instrumental and make the music speak as words would.

Continue reading after the jump…

Musically, TEARS is probably Shade Cobain’s most adventurous project to date, as he incorporates many different and somehow unexpected sonorities, in a very refreshing and original blend. This is clearly hip-hop, as the heavy drums will testify, but there is a sense of exploration and growth that is most appreciated. We can still recognise Shade’s “signature” sound but the producer ventures beyond his comfort zone and offers some very interesting treats that include drum ‘n’ bass, 80s pop, jazz or Latin elements. Most instrumentals are very rich, with several layers of instruments adding up and it will definitely take many listens to fully appreciate this wealth of sounds. The track that epitomises this variety is the surprising but addictive Fears 4 Tears (Denial), a high energy, fast-paced beat that goes through different moments and integrates many seemingly conflicting sonorities in a well-crafted combination. Other interesting realisations are the beautiful Gone (Legacy), with sampled vocals from the amazing Gretchen Parlato and a warm guitar that gives a Latin touch or the very rich but somehow light The Prize (Purpose), where the glockenspiel gives some “youth” and fun to the music while the drums provide the head-nod factor.

Beyond the notes and listening pleasure, the listener can dig deeper and unveil some hidden meaning Shade Cobain laced his instrumental with, as every track has a very specific significance to him, which he translates into music. I assume people can get different things from those tracks and I probably didn’t get exactly what was intended every time but this is also part of the magic of music, this ability to get inspired by it and interpret it the way you want to. As I mentioned earlier, the titles are very important and can give some insight into the experiences and feelings they reflect. This is a constant with the talented producer and turns him in some kind of musical writer, with each project being the equivalent of a chapter in a big book. As I listened to the album over and over again, I noticed a spiritual element, which may be something new (or something I completely made up trying to see things that may not be there) and touched me while making the music even more powerful. This is the case with tracks like Cloud 9 (Focus), which really made me feel like I was flying up in the sky, Believe (Karma), a very soothing and peaceful music that can you help have faith in the power of the universe or Man’s Mystery (Acceptance), whose mesmerising hook reminiscing of chants and beautiful piano notes indeed give a sense of secrecy.

Another element I found in TEARS is that of introspection, contemplation and nostalgia. First, the incredible Cool Breeze (Reflection) / Chaos Interlude is a representation of the duality that can exist in one’s mind, with quiet moments of meditation and peace perfectly rendered by the beautiful instruments providing a soothing element, and more hectic phases of darkness, reminiscing of nightmares represented by oppressive, distorted vocals. This track is a perfect symbol of the constant going back and forth and need for balance in life, between happiness and pain. Another of my favourites is the jazzy Lie (Regret) followed by The Conclusion which constitutes the first proper feature on Shade Cobain’s instrumental project and where Stone Jonzon shines and expresses the feelings infused in the instrumental quite accurately. The first part of the track, with its warm, deep piano notes has a very nostalgic dimension and makes me think of a musician sitting at his piano in a jazz club in the late hours of the night, sipping on some whisky, reminiscing over his life and past mistakes. To reinforce this sensation, the MC then tells us about missing his childhood and family members who passed away. “One day you’re here, the next you’re gone” is the conclusion we can draw, as well as the need to “let it flow like tears“, to remember the past but eventually move on and accept Redemption.

As usual, I could have said a lot more about other tracks and the project in general but this is what caught my attention and deserved to be underlined in my opinion. In any case, TEARS is another beautiful project by Shade Cobain, a testimony showing his growth as a man and artist, that shouldn’t leave you unmoved. Whether you are into hard-hitting drums, emotional and reflective music or eclectic samples and influences, you should find what you need.

Now is the time to discover TEARS and why this is “more than an EP”. Head to Shade Cobain’s Bandcamp page or click on the link below. Listen and please support!

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