NoTrace releases Vibrations

To say that modern hip-hop tracks, at least on the mainstream front, have taken on a certain uninspired greyness in recent years, much as hard rock and heavy metal did in the 1980’s, might be the understatement of the year. However, deep in the underground, NoTrace and Glenn Travis weren’t content to let that stagnation affect their passion, and they open up 2019 with a stellar slab of genuine, emotional rap in the form of “Vibrations,” a brand new single with a gilded groove to share. Unlike most of their peers, NoTrace and Travis stylize their first release of the year with an evocative mix that amplifies the natural textures within their vocals and makes use of every studded element in their boldly refined songcraft.

“Vibrations” is surprisingly agile for how relaxed the music is when you isolate it away from the beat. In some spots, the music tries to drag the rhythm down as much as it can, creating this suffocating kind of tension that would be considered negative in a rock n’ roll setting. Honestly though, in this scenario I think that the concept works really well, as it emphasizes the intensity of the lyrics as we reach the chorus and minimizes our focus on the drums, which are occasionally assaultive in the master mix.

This single’s flow is remarkably smooth, even when the lyrical striking gets a bit rigid and tries to spill over into the instrumental portions of the song imputatively. There’s no bumps in the road, no awkward shifts or parts that were obviously modulated or augmented in post-production, and that alone leaves me feeling a lot more like I’ve engaged in something tangible and real with this song than I have in listening to any contemporary FM fodder. I’m not saying that this doesn’t sport a streamlined pop polish, but it’s a far cry from the blatant plasticity of NoTrace’s rivals.

More than anything else, I really feel like it deserves to be stressed how little was done to this track behind the soundboard. Although I could be wrong, I can’t help but admire what I can only assume to be minor flaws within the production quality of the vocal tracks, as they indicate a genuineness in the music that instantly sets it far apart from everything else being cut this January. The understated mix makes certain that we’re able to appreciate all of this song’s organic elements and not get distracted in the frills and fluff (although there is none), and that deserves to be commended.

Winter can be a hard, cold time of year for a lot of us, but the season that occupies our lives from late December to early March is thawed by the steam heat that rises off of the speakers whenever one presses play on “Vibrations.” If its joyful subject matter doesn’t warm your heart, its seductively tight musical attributes will, in what is truly the first compelling dual threat single of 2019. Big things are coming for NoTrace and Glenn Travis in the future, and this song is evidence that their professional ascent has only just begun.


Michael Rand

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