WPGM Recommends: Bantug – Blue (EP Review)

Blue EP Review
Bantug, out of Nashville, Tennessee releases her first EP, Blue, today (March 31).

It’s packaging all of her released singles into one EP, with “Just Like A Dream” the final song to release, making it the single of Blue. The beginning of Bantug was “to experiment with sounds, but after finishing every song, my style started to come to life”. With this EP, Blue “sonically shows my growth with emotive themes from social anxiety to dreams”.

Her tentative steps into music came very young via playing her brother’s drum kit at the age of four, then learning to play guitar by age eight. After that, she went on to play double bass in her middle school’s orchestra. It was around this time that Bantug tried her hand at developing her song writing skills. She moved to attend an accelerated music program, but opted to continue said song writing.

Then came Bantug’s first single, “Waiting”, in December 2015. Then, come April 2016, there was the video for another track on the EP, “Circles”.

To start with is making the “Wine Beeline”. It has synthetic drums, with flourishes of what sounds like harp. Then the song proper comes with emphatic bass and general ethereal backdrop. “Your sippin’ on cheap wine” gives the song title some context.

Perhaps it’s referring to the Dutch courage of alcohol? The song then searches in another direction, grasping for walls as a drunk would when trying to navigate with rubber legs. “Everyday you’re wondering” perhaps a play on words, the perpetual wandering of the drunk, you could say.

Following that, things are “Just Like A Dream”, which has a similar vibe, establishing a signature sound. And there’s security and comfort in that. Wavy synths seem to evoke heady, hazy summer days. The toxic feel of summer days. Muted guitar furthers this feel, to the extent it gives off beach bum vibes. “Some things are supposed to last” but, perhaps, summer isn’t one of those things. Caught up in the moment, wanting it to last forever.

Then take note of the “Creatures”. This has the foundation present in the previous two, but a lot more sad and melancholy. “All of these creatures, they’re talkin’ to me/I smile back…” seems to tail off like an incomplete thought, lost to the ether.

Driving bass and drum really propel the moody feel of the track, then the middle section pares things back, before a certain urgency and impassioned feel takes hold. Mournful guitar rings out with suitable ambience, a skip in tempo brings back that driving feel. Said guitar recalls a doubled up urgency. Percussion, like skittling glass bottles, sees the track out.

You’re in “Waiting” next. This links up quite well with the track prior, both sounding similar thematically, just slightly different moods explored. This one, indeed, has the melancholy feel of the last. A tempo change, almost with a progressive rock bent, comes in the form of a quite satisfying stop start riff. “Waiting on the sun to rise” seems like quite a clever reference back to “Just Like A Dream”.

It’s going round in “Circles” in the end, which opens with hopeful, tinkling keyboard melody, like an ethereal carousel at a beaming-happy circus or carnival. Emphatic hits of drum and bass punctuate impossibly cool, eloquent reaching via lead guitar.

Again, the word melancholy springs to mind. These two opposing emotions don’t even seem to clash, rather they meld quite expertly together. The pounding of sadness, dragging you down; but that carousel, within all those layers, keeps your head above water.

The closing minute sees the dynamics stripped right back, the vocals permeating before a rousing return to the sheer volume building before. Delicate, dainty guitar jangles as the song ends on the shore.

Particular highlights are “Just Like A Dream” and “Waiting”. The other three are not far from excellent, but these two strike the ear as bedfellows, thematically speaking. The first’s lyrics of, “Somethings are supposed to last” seems to link to the latter’s, “Waiting on the sun to rise”. Indeed, we’d like summers to last, so much so we hotly anticipate the rising of the sun.

Bantug has her own, distinctive signature sound. Like any self-respecting artist. It’s a perfect formula in that, despite a feeling of familiarity, going from one song to the other never seems boring. That’s the joy of listening to it, and even seemingly opposing emotions are delved into simultaneously without jarring. Bantug’s Blue EP can be streamed below.

Also visit her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify and website pages to keep tabs on Bantug.

Words by Andrew Watson

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