For his debut album, Mall Grab is taking a deep breath and plunging into the depths of what music means to him.
Already known for his DJ sets where he incorporates the likes of hip-hop and hardcore, Australian Jordan Alexander is now making moves beyond the decks to become one of the biggest acts in electronic and dance music. What I Breathe covers a lot of ground, but he concentrates on how the last six years have shaped his sound by toting a melange of dance, electronic and techno – yet dig further and there's more to be found.
Opener "Hand in Hand Through Wonderland" is gently guiding us into the world of Mall Grab. The heavy bass contrasts with bell synths, an echoing mysterious voice repeating “I just”, until the main synth melody comes in and a complexity is welcomed into the mix. You can feel something building – and like the disembodied voice – to something we don’t fully understand yet. It’s engrossing as the layers meld together into one flowing piece of music. That is, until the drums break, and then it's an immediate dancefloor filler. The atmosphere is focused and all with a goal in mind – this is the first step into the Australian producer’s lifesource.
Club classics like "Love Reigns" and "Breathing" are warehouse worthy. Banging bass, attention grabbing vocals and head bopping melodies are brought together on outgoing tracks, while hints of Calvin Harris and the Orb are found on "Spirit Wave" and this is where Mall Grab hits his stride.
The collaborations are cleverly used to highlight the scope of Mall Grab’s influences and his musical surroundings. "Understand" features vocals from Turnstile’s Brendan Yates. The two scenes of modern electronic meeting with hardocre punk seems like chalk and cheese. However, Mall Grab uses Yates vocals to bring a dreaminess to the track as well as using his distinct emotive voice to add another dimension. Nia Archives is next on the collab list. While "Patience" has a more relaxed R&B feel, with a vapourwave edge jutting out, her soulful voice fits right in with the layered electronic synths.
The pounding bass is his best friend on What I Breathe and how it’s utilised so extensively but always so differently across the record shows his talent for production. "Intercity Relations" is brain rattling. The stink of Berlin emanating, it's techno driven with industrial beats tapping along as if you’re surfing the u-bahn dressed all in black. "Metaphysical" moves into drum 'n' bass territory. You’re thrown into a storm of rushing drums, the bass heavy enough to rattle any bones in a 10km radius.
As a confident debut, What I Breathe encapsulates exactly what Mall Grab wants us to feel. Weaving multiple genres together through dance and electronic, he shows us what he lives for and what’s pushing him forward.