Fenix & SM1LO release Where We Begin (LP)
As Llexa reminds us in one of the more stirring lyrical lines of “Where We Begin,” there’s no looking back when you’ve got no worries, car keys and a driven spirit to chase after a beat with everything in your soul, which is really what this collaboration in extreme electronica from Fenix & SM1LO is all about. Fenix & SM1LO, with the assistance of Llexa, are taking a progressive dive into a futuristic style of EDM in this excellently compiled collection of mixes, remixes and radio edits, and even if you’ve already found the right EDM to take with you on your summer adventure, I would recommend considering Where We Begin when shopping for new and thrilling grooves this year.
The “Club” mixes of “Where We Begin” have chic, urban and cosmopolitan vibes reminiscent of the bright lights that adorn casinos on the Vegas strip. In some ways, Fenix is making some whale-sized wagers with the clubbier beats here; instead of making it so that the hooks grow out of the slip-sliding rhythm of the synths, the synths are made to lead the charge into the chorus, which grants the drums a little more room to pulverize with impunity at the climax of the song. “Fenix Club Radio Edit” is the only instance where Llexa’s performance is overwhelmed by the swelling instrumentation in the track; “Fenix Club Remix” is a lot more seamlessly mixed, not to mention a bit less abrasive than the “House” versions that precede it are.
From my perspective, instrumental “Dub” versions of “Where We Begin” trigger thoughts of ancient tribal rituals more than they do neon-soaked dancefloors. The absence of Llexa doesn’t eliminate the emotion from the music at all; in fact, I think that it makes this material a little more expressive and the beats a lot harder to resist in general. Some like to question the aesthetical value of electronica, and those who are unsure of the legitimacy that the genre’s present-day underground possesses could stand to learn something from Where We Begin. Here, Fenix & SM1LO teach us that you don’t have to have a powerhouse pop vocal to make EDM evocative, but when you do, it only increases the accessibility of a style that has unlimited potential in areas that, because of technological advancements, other subgenres of pop will never be able to attain.
It’s not comparable to some of their independent works, but Where We Begin is still a very interesting collaboration for all three of the players associated with its release. Fenix & SM1LO, with Llexa, have made a statement of a non-political nature in this record, but it’s just as leering a declaration as anything you’re going to hear out of the American and British punk rock undergrounds this summer. Electronica fans who have grown weary over a perceived creative slowdown among their favorite mainstream performers have a new trio of cult heroes in these artists, who together are introducing a hybrid dance concept piece in Where We Begin that, I think, will make synthesized club pop a much better follow than it probably would have been this year.