The accessibility of production software and Internet resources has opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of bedroom producers, musicians and DJs. The thriving amateur community presents a new challenge for rare talents — how to worm their way out of the wash of self-taught artists and into the league of professional electronic music. It was a breath of fresh air to hear Brolin’s hauntingly beautiful vocals break through the Internet’s cloud of disposable sound last month with his first EP, Cundo.
The masked and mysterious Brolin first showed up on the UK music scene last fall to release his debut single, ”NYC”. The track was an instant success with its simple bass line, uplifting piano melodies and sweet vocals that stepped politely in and out of the composition. In no time, “NYC” received well-deserved attention from mainstream and underground critics alike. With only a few shows under his belt after releasing his first single, Brolin was cautious about his entry into the UK music scene: his first track was released quietly and live performances were extremely under promoted. Now Brolin’s artist identity has grown since signing with Double Denim records, an independent label based in London, but his personal profile still remains largely unknown.
Only half a year since his debut, Brolin has returned with new and more confident material. Cundo, his first ever EP, was released late last month, showcasing stunning harmonies as well as a more soulful side to Brolin’s vocals. Cundo gets its name from an artist whose work struck a chord with Brolin on a past trip to Cuba. In an interview with FADER magazine, Brolin explains, “It’s the name of an artist called Cundo Bermudez, a Cuban artist and I’m just a massive fan of his work…Cundo is not his actual name — like Phillipe or whatever — it’s like calling someone friend, like a nickname. I thought it was quite a warm sounding title.”
The EP’s success comes from the first song, “Reykjavik”, which was previously released as a single back in February. Electronic artist, Luke Abbot, and producer, David Pye, co-produced the track. The catchy and pointed beat sets the track into motion almost literally with a rhythm that feels like nothing if not a brisk walk. The vocals in both are confident and drawn out, a definite improvement from Brolin’s first effort, “NYC”. Falsetto melodies whisper over clicking percussion and for a second I’m taken back to exploring the cold streets of Reykjavik on a windy October day. Both the original mix and the peaking lights remix featured are included in the EP – the first is crisp and upbeat, the second with more hollow and distant vocals and a killer beat kicking in mid-way through the track. For some beautiful visuals, check out the music video for “Reykjavik”, made by Iian Pettifer. Flashing imagery and soft swirling colours capture the track beautifully with a vibe like the sweet blinking moments before early morning caffeination.
The second track on the EP, “Lisboa”, opens on a softer note, introducing the warmer vocals with a chiming melodic riff. As the track unfurls orchestral instruments add layers upon layers for a sophisticated composition. I was quite surprised by the third track “Habana Vieja”, a short and hymn-like vocal arrangement with some traditional sounding guitar accompaniment — very pretty but more teaser than full track. Perhaps a nice wind-down before the final track, the Peaking Lights remix of “Reykjavik”, successfully bringing the original track into the realm of dance music.
All in all, Cundo is a fantastic showcase of this great new artist’s talent, especially his unique vocals. Brolin was even kind enough to leave his whole EP up for streaming on his soundcloud page—have a listen for yourself!
With such a promising start to his music career, I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing more from Brolin soon. Until then, I’ll be keeping Cundo on heavy rotation.
Jessie Croll is an architecture student, currently interning at a creative practice in Vancouver. Collaborating, building things and drinking coffee are among her favorite activities.